Aussie bargain hunters have streamed into shops on Boxing Day for a projected $2.5 billion splurge on sales.
It is the biggest trading day of the year and marks the start of the traditional sales period in which customers will shell out over $18 billion from Boxing Day to January 15, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says.
NSW shoppers were expected to take the lead in spending around $790 million on Wednesday, followed by Victoria on $786 million.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall lauded a “massive turnout” at Adelaide suburban stores, which opened for the first time on December 26.
Sydney’s Craig Farrugia left home at 4am to join a queue of dedicated shoppers outside Myer in Pitt Street Mall.
By 7am, he and his partner had spent about $400, and Mr Farrugia told AAP he was just getting started.
“We’ll probably spend close to a couple of grand today,” he said.
In Melbourne, free coffee was offered to crowds queuing up in the Bourke Street Mall and David Jones offered a $100 voucher to the first 100 in line.
Leading the queue was a woman who arrived about 2.30am, earning herself a $500 store voucher and the chance to ring the bell to mark the store opening.
“She drove up from the Mornington Peninsula, she was very keen,” David Jones spokeswoman Morgan Hill said.
Jaymee Swift made the 1300km journey from Townsville to Brisbane to meet up with her old friend Bridget Mackenzie for their annual bargain hunt.
And this year they have extra special reason to hit the stores, with Ms Mackenzie pregnant with her first child.
“This year we can say, ‘look out pregnant lady coming through!’,” joked Ms Swift.
ARA and Roy Morgan predicted a 3.1 per cent increase in post-Christmas sales, with shoppers to spend in excess of $2.5 billion this Boxing Day both in-store and online.
Some of that increase was attributed to South Australia, where the state government used regulatory powers to allow shops to open on Boxing Day this year after legislation to lift all restrictions on trading was blocked by the Labor opposition and crossbench MPs.
Mr Marshall said crowds of shoppers had flocked for sales.
“We’ve said all along, if consumers want to shop, traders want to open and employees are willing and able to work, why should the law stop them?” he said.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman urged customers to be patient and co-operative with retail staff during the expected mayhem.
“At the end of the day, retail workers are people too. Staff in retail stores are there to help and should not be made the target of bullying, abuse or harassment.”