Retailers prepare for $23.5 billion in sales as shoppers enjoy Boxing Day after restrictions ease – ABC News

Retailers prepare for $23.5 billion in sales as shoppers enjoy Boxing Day after restrictions ease
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Prices will not be the only thing falling on Monday, as retail records are expected to tumble, with Australians enjoying their first COVID-19 restriction-free Boxing Day sales period in two years.
Data from the Australian Retail Association (ARA) projects that shoppers will spend a record $23.5 billion during the Boxing Day sales period this year, a 7.9 per cent increase on 2021.
Melbourne international student Daxesh Patel said he had been waiting years for the chance to shop again at the Boxing Day sales.
"For a couple of years, I was stuck in my home country due to COVID. So, I've really been waiting for this moment and I'm just enjoying the day," he said.
Milla Bertone headed to Melbourne's Chadstone shopping centre, hoping to find clothes this morning, only to find she had left it too late.
"I got here at 9am and everything was out of stock already," she said.
"I'm currently looking for trackies. I've been to like three stores … I've just been running around the place, trying to find them."
Shops in Sydney's Bondi Junction were filled with savvy shoppers during the morning, hoping to snatch a bargain in the face of tough financial conditions.
"The cost of living we're concerned about, so the big sales are quite a big thing for us," Sydney shopper Pearl Ngo said.
On the hunt for a handbag, Pearl said she still preferred the traditional retail sales to online shopping.
"The last three years we bought online and, when they arrive, you’re a little bit disappointed, because you only see the picture," she said.
Melbourne father and daughter pair Peter and Jane were similarly attached to traditional in-store shopping.
"I'm no good online. You've got to try before you buy!" he said.
Peter said the number of shoppers was down considerably compared to past years.
"Five years ago it was just chockers, unbelievable. It gives you a bit of a buzz actually. [Now] it's very quiet," Peter said.
ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said there were fewer shoppers in-store compared to previous sales periods, reflecting a change in trends.
How a day that may have started to compensate servants became about hunting, yacht races, and yes … sales.
"We don't see those long queues of people waiting to get inside the stores because, of course, people can shop now online. It's much more convenient," Mr Zahra said.
"Today's a much more relaxed day. The build-up … we'll ease into it but we'll certainly have a busy day."
Mr Zahra said clothing was expected to deliver the biggest savings for consumers.
"We've had a really bad season. It's been such an unseasonably cool summer, so that's not great for retailers but wonderful for consumers," he said.
"Expect discounts of up to 50 per cent across the board … as [retailers] try to clear out their inventory in preparation for the next season."
While retailers in 2021 may have been restricted by social distancing rules and mask mandates, 2022 is expected see the Boxing Day sales bounce back to pre-COVID figures.
"What we'll be seeing this Boxing Day is a pretty good year for retailers," Monash business school's principal research consultant, Eloise Zoppos, said.
"Shoppers from around Australia told us in our survey that they were planning to buy from Boxing Day sales more so this year than they have in previous years." 
Ms Zoppos said that, despite the increased number of sales periods each year, the traditional Boxing Day sales still held the most cultural cache for Australians.
"What we found in our research is that, while sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming more and more popular over the last few years, Boxing Day still trumps them all," she said.
Ms Zoppos said many Australians would use the Boxing Day sales in an attempt to offset increasingly tough financial conditions.
"With things like interest rate rises and cost-of-living increases it can be hard to spend money, at this time of year, on friends and family," she said.
"The sales are one way that some shoppers are able to still buy presents for their friends and family while still getting the most bang for their buck."
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