Eateries busy, retailers less so

Queenstown Mall was filled with diners and holidaymakers on Boxing Day, despite surcharges. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Queenstown Mall was filled with diners and holidaymakers on Boxing Day, despite surcharges. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Surcharges did not deter diners in Queenstown yesterday as thousands flocked to eat out in the sun, while retail stores struggled to match last year's Boxing Day influx.

The town centre was noticeably busier than Christmas Day for the obvious reason shops and eateries were open and there were retail bargains.

However, several retail managers commented that while it was busy, they were still well under last year's Boxing Day sale figures.

Owners of Maher Shoes in Queenstown, Caroline and Mark Jessop, had ''Boxing Day'' sales running in their store leading up to Christmas because it had been noticeably quieter than previous years leading into the festive season.

''We've had a sale on here since before Christmas and that's a tell-tale sign it's been quieter.''

Yesterday sales did not pick up until well after midday, she said, and it was unlikely numbers would match Boxing Day 2011.

Mr and Mrs Jessop also run two restaurants in the resort, the Tatler and Prime Restaurant, and both had seen a good number of diners throughout Christmas and Boxing Day.

This was evident in all of Queenstown yesterday with tables and chairs occupied from mid-morning down Queens- town's mall and waterfront.

While diners indulged on Boxing Day, Queenstown was not traditionally the place to go for retail bargains, Detour store owner Mike Collins said.

The lead-up to Christmas had seen more male shoppers than usual. However, Boxing Day in Queenstown ''was just another day'' because those wanting to do more serious shopping would head to the cities, such as Invercargill and Dunedin, he said.

''Queenstown doesn't really do bargains, as such. Most of the people here are on holiday and they're not too bothered with bargains. They just want to relax.''

Next door at the Telecom shop, customers had been flocking in, not for bargains but for general services, manager David Knight said.

Rather than looking for good deals on cheap phones, customers were setting up plan and sim cards on phones given to them for Christmas.

Mr Knight also said many were coming in because they had either lost or damaged their phones on holiday, at the beach or the pub.

''People lose phones, they spill things on them and also people have given them as surprise gifts so they need to get the set-up.''

He predicted 500 people would walk in the door throughout yesterday.

Meanwhile, the biggest seller by far at Queenstown's central pharmacy, Wilkinsons Pharmacy, was antihistamines and sunscreen.