An unseasonably warm autumn has left a surplus of winter goods and produce sitting on the shelves despite prices being slashed to as much as 50 per cent off. With temperatures around 1.5C warmer than normal for the time of year, T-shirts and cardigans are still visible on Auckland's city streets.

Retailers wouldn't disclose figures on what impact this has had on selling winter stock, but anecdotally it seemed as if demand for hearty winter fare and warmer woollen goods was about a month behind schedule.

Supermarket shelves around the country reflected a lack of customer interest in winter produce, with the price of pumpkin, kumara and broccoli reduced by as much as half.

A crown pumpkin at Pak'nSave was on sale for as little as $1-$2, when its normal price was at least $3-$4, kumara was around $2-$3/kg compared with the usual $3-$4/kg and broccoli was down to $1-$2 per head, rather than the usual $2-$3.


Foodstuffs said usually customers would be buying for hearty meals, such as roasts, at this time of year.

"The warmer weather has meant we have needed to supply summer vegetables for slightly longer this year, due to increased customer preference for salads," a spokeswoman said. "This naturally has an effect on prices as demand is high, but product availability is reduced."

She said demand was about three weeks behind a normal winter.

Meanwhile, in retail, vendors reported a sluggish uptake of winter stock. With spring stock expected to arrive in some stores as early as July, this could leave little time for getting the winter wear out the door.

In malls Glassons had its merinos priced at $29.99 (normally $39.99) and coats were selling for $59.99 (normally $80). Hallensteins had sweats priced at two for $69 (normally between $49.99 and $59.99 each) and Just Jeans had $20 off knitwear (full-price range $49.99 to $99.95) and $30 off jackets (full price $89.95 to $229.00).

Managers the Herald spoke to reported winter sales had been slow off the mark. A manager of a men's clothing chain said it was only when the cold weather kicked in last week that he noticed an increase in foot traffic.

A women's shop manager said there was still a lot of stock up for sale, while another retailer said his store had moved away from selling the heavier winter coats due to a lack of interest.

Farmers said its sales of thermal wear and men's clothing had been impacted by the warmer weather, but sales in its fashion range remained strong.