LEAD STORY: FOR Hawke's Bay retailers, Christmas Day was akin to a truce being called in the middle of a major battle - which reaped $34 million in sales in the week leading up to yesterday's festive lull.
It was the pre-Christmas battle for last-minute goodies and gifts and today it was the battle for a bargain, as major stores and specialist retailers rolled out their traditional Boxing Day sales.
Retailers in the region had begun to think the spending season was not shaping up, until a last-minute rush - a trend reflected in the other 12 districts overseen by eftpos transaction company Paymark.
The $34 million spent in Hawke's Bay from December 17 was 3.8 per cent up on last year - the fifth-highest increase of the 13 regions.
Total sales across the country totalled about $1 billion. Staff at the major retailers in the Bay were anticipating a huge day today as the sales kicked in.
One staffer at The Warehouse in Hastings, where people started pouring through the doors just after 8.30am, predicted the afternoon would be "full-on".
The only exception in the sales charge had been Gisborne, hit by an earthquake on Thursday that badly damaged the main shopping area.
Spending there was down 1.7 per cent.
All other regions were up on last year.
The highest increases were in Auckland/Northland (5.3 per cent), Canterbury (5.1 per cent) and Nelson (5.1 per cent).
Nearly 20 million electronic transactions were done during the lead-up week, processed either in stores or online around the country. Paymark's chief executive, Simon Tong, said: "Transaction volumes have definitely done what we would have expected at this time of the year.
"The good weather and proliferation of sales have meant most Kiwis have been out in force."