In a world of lockdowns and social distancing Boxing Day in New Zealand offered a slice of normalcy with shoppers devouring sales and fans basking in the sun at the cricket.
In Auckland, hundreds of bargain-hunters were even seen lining up outside malls ahead of opening hours.
At Sylvia Park Mall in Mt Wellington, some were even there before the first shops opened at 7am, centre manager Helen Ronald said.
Soon after the whole shopping centre opened up at 8am it was packed to the rafters, and Ronald said it didn’t let up all day.
“It’s been busier than expected, and definitely busier than last year,” she said.
It’s a welcome trend for retailers that has arrived in force since Black Friday sales at the end of November.
After a tough year due to Covid-19 lockdowns, shoppers were really taking to the “support local” messaging, Ronald said.
On Christmas Eve there was a record-breaking level of transactions, and everything was pointing towards Boxing Day being even more lucrative.
Spending through Paymark on Boxing Day last year totalled $149m and the final figures for 2020’s Christmas and Boxing Day period will be released on Monday.
Ronald said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was bringing shoppers out in force as each store had great offerings.
“I think after the year people have had, they are coming out, having a relaxing shop, enjoying the bargains, and we are seeing a lot of families here. That is something we have seen right through Christmas, and is really nice to see.
“It is really just like a normal Boxing Day, one of those days you are really thankful to be in New Zealand.”
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said they were also expecting to see a big increase in online shopping this year.
Some major New Zealand retailers, such as Noel Leeming and the Warehouse started their Boxing Day sales online on Christmas Eve, while most others began on Christmas Day.
“I think we can expect to see a big jump in online spending this year. Some sales started on Christmas Eve, and many more yesterday, so I think many more people will jump into that online space, as it means you can do it from home or even at the beach.”
In the great outdoors it was a mixed bag of weather, with unseasonably cold temperatures in the South Island and even thunderstorms in northern parts, while the mid to upper North Island basked in mostly glorious sunshine.
In particular those in Tauranga watching the Black Caps cricket team take on Pakistan at Bay Oval in their first test match were treated to a day of blue skies and temperatures in the mid 20s.
On Sunday, there will be scattered rain or showers developing for most in the North Island, with cold southerlies in the south and east.
In the South Island, Canterbury through to Marlborough can expect rain and cold southerlies, with conditions partly cloudy or fine for the rest.
The week ahead was looking slightly cooler than desired for this time of year, thanks to a series of weak fronts that will also bring outbreaks of rain or showers at times across much of the country.
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