New Zealanders flock to shops for Boxing Day deals

Malls were a sight that would shock the world today, as New Zealanders flocked to the shops for Boxing Day deals - without the need for masks or social distancing.

COVID-19 put a stop to in-store shopping this year, but spenders seem to be making up for lost time.

Social distancing's now a distant memory on one of the busiest days on the shopping calendar.

Last Boxing Day we spent at least $150 million. This year retailers desperately need that dosh.

"They've had a really tough year and to be able to give them a day like today is really great," says Sylvia Park shopping centre manager Helen Ronald.

Seven months after shops were allowed to reopen post-lockdown, some are still unable to pay rent.

Westfield's boss says it's offering financial support to its retailers, but not for much longer.

"That support is likely to decrease, particularly as a result of the strength of sales over this Christmas period," Paul Gardner says.

And strong it is.

"I can't go into figures but we are expecting it to be one of our biggest days on record," says David Jones store manager Imraan Colley.

The Australian department store opened in Auckland just before Christmas last year. COVID's been quite the curveball.

"It means a lot to us to have customers come in to touch, feel, try on," Colley says.

Punters are pretty pleased with their purchases - including electronics, clothes and shoes - and there's always an impulse buyer.

Everyone here is stoked to be shopping in person.

"I've got children who live overseas and they're spending their Christmases locked up in their houses and I'm thrilled to be able to do this," one person told Newshub.

Because there's nothing like a bit of retail therapy to finish up a tough year.