Men shopping in packs a Boxing Day trend

Young men hunting in packs for fashion items and gadgets has become a Boxing Day shopping trend, retailers say.

As stores across Australia teemed with shoppers on Tuesday, retailers were expecting a $1.8 billion spend for the day, up about 2.5 per cent on last year.

Australian National Retailers Association Chief Executive Margy Osmond said that was not the level retailers would like, but at least it was not going backwards.

"So let's hope that everybody gets out there and parts with a few pennies over the next few days," she told reporters at David Jones's crowded shoe department on Wednesday.

An emerging Boxing Day trend was the number of men out shopping, she said.

"Last year we saw a lot of men in the front of the queue to get in-store and this year they're out in force.

"We're seeing groups of guys coming in and they're buying fashion and they're buying gadgets," Ms Osmond said.

"So clearly the boys are having a nice day out together to do some shopping, so I'm sure this is a trend we're going to see more of."

Women were targeting fashion and homewards such as sheets and towels.

Ms Osmond said Boxing Day was the "ultimate adrenaline shop" with even deeper price cuts than those made in the lead-up to Christmas.

She said because Victoria had unrestricted trading, its predicted Boxing Day spend would be $588 million ahead of $511 million in NSW, with its public holiday restrictions outside tourist precincts.

She urged the NSW government to give retailers a Christmas present of unrestricted shopping hours next year.

National Retail Association (NRA) Chief Executive Trevor Evans said good Boxing Day sales would be welcomed by retailers after sluggish retail figures throughout the year.

"Christmas shoppers are experiencing the best buying conditions in years as the high Aussie dollar has allowed retailers to import products for Christmas sales at cheaper prices."

Mr Evans said those goods had hit the shelves at significantly reduced prices, which were driven down even further by intense competition in the sector.

He said retailers reported shoppers were starting to loosen their purse strings and there was some optimism that retail sales in 2013 would show a modest improvement over this year's results.

Sydney's Pitt Street Mall and other shopping streets were packed on Wednesday with long queues outside some stores such as Gucci, Topshop and Swarovski.

Ms Osmond said retailers were reporting "huge" online sales, including on Christmas Day, but that had not blunted the turn-out in bricks and mortar stores.

At Dick Smith's store on George Street, Area Manager Sasa Loncar said discounted computers, iPads and iPhones were being snapped up and the store had sold out of iPad minis.

Big spending is expected to continue across Australia on Thursday, with the ANRA predicting a spend of $1.2 billion.

Spending for the first week of the sales is expected to top $5.7 billion, with NSW spending the most at $1.7 billion followed by Victoria on $1.4 billion.

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