BARGAIN hunters are set to pump $ 1.9 billion into retail tills in a Boxing Day sales stampede.
Victorians are expected to spend more than any other state at $ 637 million – almost $ 600,000 each minute of the extended shopping hours – as they take advantage of unrestricted public holiday trade.
Australian National Retailers Association chief Margy Osmond said the crucial clearance sales would set the tone for the coming year.
“There is a strong feeling among retailers that this year’s post-Christmas sale period will outperform previous years,” Ms Osmond said.
Early birds angling for clothes, shoes, electronics and homewares can shop at the CBD and Chadstone Myer stores from 5am. David Jones also will open its flagship Bourke St store at 5am.
The first 500 in the Myer city store queue get free breakfast, and the first 100 get “gold tickets” with random super sales offers.
Experts expect huge interest in the annual stocktake despite some easing of the massive discounts seen in more dire financial times.
A forecast $ 17.6 billion will be splurged nationwide between now and mid-January, up 5.6 per cent on last year.
Online shopping locally and overseas will snare up to one-quarter of sales.
ANRA estimates shoppers will cash in on savings of at least $ 644 million just on Boxing Day, based on a minimum discount of 25 per cent.
“The rise of online retailing and shifting nature of how consumers shop has encouraged retailers to adjust their approach and we don’t anticipate the same level of broadbased discounting that we have seen in the past,” Ms Osmond said.
“What consumers will see, however, is far more sophisticated and targeted strategies that will steer loyal and regular customers to in-store and online bargains.”
Highpoint Shopping Centre manager Linda Burgess said more than 130,000 Boxing Day visitors were expected.
“Almost 70 per cent of regular customers are planning to attend,” Ms Burgess said.
Another 120,000 will head to Chadstone, where luxury jewellery, bed linen and towels, computer games, electronics and toys are likely top sellers.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said this year’s sales were highly anticipated given there had not been as much discount activity in the lead-up compared with recent years.
“People like the buzz and the experience,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“The women’s shoes area is like bees around a honey pot.”
Retail expert Gary Mortimer said the Boxing Day sales tradition was “consumer ritualism at its best”.
“We have been conditioned through generations to go out and get it at all costs,” Dr Mortimer said.
“We can walk away with a trophy and tell all our friends and brag on Facebook about how we battled the crowd and car parks.”
At Myer, about 50 business shirts a minute will be sold today.
Its stores will welcome about one million customers nationwide, and more than 340,000 in Victoria, throughout the day. About 17 million customers will shop with the retailer nationally over the entire stocktake sale phase.
In a sign of the evolving technological times, retailer Dick Smith has introduced a mobile app that allows customers to skip queues and buy top sale items by scanning catalogues and advertisements with their smartphones.