Boxing Day sales ‘not as busy’

J.P. Tulia-Shand (12) and Atlanta Williams (14) joined the throngs of shoppers browsing the...
J.P. Tulia-Shand (12) and Atlanta Williams (14) joined the throngs of shoppers browsing the Boxing Day sales in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Blue skies and warm weather enticed hundreds of Dunedin shoppers to visit the centre city in the hope of bagging a bargain on Boxing Day.

But despite George St appearing packed yesterday, retailers reported less than stellar sales.

Ashlee Maxwell, a retail assistant at clothing store Glassons, said takings were about $20,000 down on Boxing Day last year.

"It was busy, but not as busy as last year.

"We were limiting people at the beginning of the day [in line with Covid-19 restrictions], but it calmed down after that."

Shivani Dahya, a retail assistant at Wild South in George St, echoed that sentiment, saying there had been an initial rush in the morning but the rest of the day had been steady.

"I was expecting it to be a bit busier, being Boxing Day, but it’s been a pretty steady flow of people through," she said.

An employee of JB Hi-Fi, in Meridian Mall, who asked not to be named, said the store had been busy, but the number of shoppers through the doors was essentially what was expected — around the same as last year.

Retailers’ experiences in Dunedin could be following a growing national trend.

PriceSpy data showed November’s Black Friday sales were gaining in popularity and could overtake Boxing Day sales for the first time this year.

The price comparison site reported the number of Boxing Day shoppers had fallen 10% since 2019.

National PriceSpy manager Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett said there had been a shift in consumer shopping behaviour in recent years.

"People are increasingly looking to buy items at discounted prices pre-Christmas, rather than waiting until after Christmas Day," she said.

She believed the pandemic could be a factor in the trend this year, Ms Matinvesi-Bassett said.

"[New Zealanders] may instead choose to reconnect with friends and family after long lockdowns rather than hit the shops."

Still, while there might be fewer people shopping, those who did opt for some post-Christmas retail therapy now spent more.

An annual survey of 500 New Zealanders, conducted on behalf of PriceSpy, found the average amount spent on Boxing Day rose more than $300 between 2019 and 2020, increasing to $1200.

Ms Matinvesi-Bassett said it was a silver lining for retailers and, again, might have been driven by the pandemic.

"After a tough and challenging year, retailers will undoubtedly be pleased to hear the amount shoppers are spending on Boxing Day is significantly up.

"This rise in spending may be driven by the ongoing factor of long lockdowns, as people have been unable to buy normally — and some may have also saved money across the year as a result of not going out as much as what they usually would."

Otago’s Boxing Day retail figures from Worldline (previously Paymark) are expected to be released within a week.

But Worldline NZ head of data George Putnam said pre-Christmas data showed shoppers had spent more this year than before.

Boxing Day sales might be slipping, but New Zealanders were spending more than ever, just the spending occurred earlier in the year. — Additional reporting RNZ

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