The car parks were overflowing, the stores crowded to the point of bursting, but people still poured in for the annual Boxing Day sales in Hawke's Bay.

Thousands of shoppers took to the streets in Napier and Hastings to raid retailers of bargains, with queues of shoppers weaving down store aisles, credit cards in hand.

It was tricky to move inside Briscoes Hastings about 11am on Wednesday. At least 10 cashiers in bright blue uniforms crowded around the tills assisting shoppers with purchases and bagging items to get the line moving as quickly as possible.

The store was so busy the manager didn't have time to speak to Hawke's Bay Today.

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Rebel Sport wasn't any quieter, with some patient shoppers even sitting on the floor as they waited for the line to move along.

City Assist and police were also present around the shopping hub in Hastings to support staff of stores overflowing with keen shoppers.

Their presence had a positive effect, with only one shoplifting incident reported as at 1pm, said a police spokesperson.

"A 35-year-old woman was arrested after being observed shoplifting from a Karamu Rd North address, has been charged and will appear in Hastings District Court on the 31st," the spokesperson said.

The electrical department in Harvey Norman Hastings was buzzing with activity with a floor manager saying the store had been full since they opened at 9am.

"It's just been hectic the moment we opened the doors and I'm pretty sure it's going to be like this for the remainder of the day."

Google statistics reported Farmers Hastings having "way more people than usual" just after midday with the store manager confirming that was definitely the case.

"I think we're pretty much on par with all the other stores across Hawke's Bay, it's just been crazy, but the day is certainly speeding along, she said.

According to Paymark Hawke's Bay spent $13.3m on their Eftpos cards on food and retail purchases on the weekend before Christmas.

Last year Hawke's Bay consumers spent $3.4 million on Boxing Day alone.

A Paymark spokesperson said figures for the 2018 Boxing Day spend would not be released until after the New Year.