Thousands of Hawke's Bay shoppers hit the malls and streets yesterday, searching for Boxing Day bargains and deals during the busiest retail day of the year.

Crowds gathered early and waited for the stores to open so they could spend their holiday money and redeem Christmas vouchers on clothing, toys, sporting goods and home appliances.

Hastings Kmart store manager Charlie Wynyard said a "huge" number of people flooded through the department store doors inside the redeveloped Plaza shopping centre on St Aubyn St East and Karamu Rd.

"It has been very, very busy. We have seen a huge increase in the number of people in the store this year, most are looking for deals on Christmas products and specials on a number of things.


"Christmas Eve was also one of our better days leading up to Christmas in a number of years. There were times on Christmas Eve and [yesterday] where you couldn't move in the Plaza, there were that many people."

He said the $4 million redevelopment of The Plaza shopping centre, which began in July aiming to be ready for the silly season trading period, had "certainly" helped contribute to the hectic days.

"Along with the Plaza redevelopment we have had our own refurbishment over the last five months which has made things attractive and cleaner for shoppers which has probably also helped sales over Christmas."

Bay Plaza Centre manager Robyn Burns said Boxing Day, as expected, proved the busiest day for foot traffic and sales for the Plaza.

"People come in for the amazing specials the retailers have and, especially with Kmart, people come in to redeem their vouchers. They were open till midnight so it is definitely a busy day for them."

The Plaza witnessed an increase in foot traffic by more than 15 per cent this year, which she attributed to the winter redevelopment.

In Napier, Farmers department manager Jo Robins said yesterday was "busy, busy" but a fantastic sign for the store following the move to its new location.

"It's the first Christmas period in our new store so it was great to see so many people in here. The kids stuff is proving popular with shoppers, toys are heading out the door quickly and all kids' clothing is half price so that is also proving popular."

She said electronics and TVs were "a little slower" with people not willing to spend large amounts.

The Napier department store opened the doors to its new building in June following a three-year demolition, then redevelopment, of the Hastings St and Marine Parade site.

While the festive season highlights a strong spending spree, a number of new Hawke's Bay retailers have emerged or redeveloped over the past year indicating a resurgence in the twin cities' retail industry.

In Napier at least 27 new or redeveloped shops have sprung up this year.

While figures for yesterday's spending are not expected to be released until today, Paymark figures for the region's Christmas build-up on December 22 and 23 showed spending had increased 4.3 per cent from the same period last year.

Hawke's Bay shoppers spent $11.5 million on those two days, up from $11.1 million the previous year. Shoppers can continue to enjoy the Boxing Day sales today, with most continuing over the next few days.