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Whangārei’s Okara Park heaving with Boxing Day shoppers

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Peter Rakanui left Okara Park with nine bags of landscaping bark for his mum’s garden. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Thousands of Boxing Day shoppers descended upon Northland retail outlets for the sales, with Whangārei’s Okara Park Shopping Centre full of people looking to find bargains for themselves or whanāu.

Trolleys were hard at work wheeling all sorts to and from Okara shops and tamariki excitedly left clutching their new treasures, possibly last-minute Christmas pressies from parents looking to save some cash.

It’s no surprise during a cost of living crisis the carpark was full, with shoppers hoping to leave having saved on furniture, appliances and other needs.

Others went intending to bring a smile to their loved ones.

One shopper exited The Warehouse with nine bags of landscaping bark, having braved the queues to find a bargain for his mum’s garden.

“Her garden is ridiculous, it’s just like a tropical backyard,” Peter Rakanui said.

He got a sweet deal of “ten bucks a bag if you buy three” which meant he could save some dollars.

It was the perfect deal to help bring his mum’s vision to life. He said the crowds were “to be expected” but he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to spend his morning waiting with other shoppers.

In the end it wasn’t too bad, he said. As for whether his mum will be happy with the bargain?

“She will when I’ve done the job,” Rakanui joked.

The theme of nature carried through with the small haul of Waiotira resident Carol Wise.

She and her granddaughter Lily decided to brave the crowds to return a Christmas present but left with more than they bargained for.

“We’re very lucky because I don’t normally do this, I’m aware of queues and how hectic it might be. I’m very pleasantly surprised.”

Carol Wise with her bargains and granddaughter Lily Wise sporting her new well-fitting sandals. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Carol Wise with her bargains and granddaughter Lily Wise sporting her new well-fitting sandals. Photo / Michael Cunningham

“We found a parking space straight away and we wanted to change the sandals for Lily because I bought them for yesterday (Christmas Day) and they were one size too small.

“And of course, while we were here we had to look at the flowers and we got carried away.”

In addition to some properly fitting sandals, the pair left the shop with some lupin, lavender and cosmos for her garden, an activity they plan to do together if the rain dissipated.

RNZ previously reported that stores across the country had started Boxing Day sales early to make up for a slow Christmas period.

Tighter budgets meant business owners were determined to entice shoppers in order to stay afloat.

According to Eftpos network operator Worldline, consumers were favouring daily needs and recreation over Christmas gifts and other luxuries.

Five tips for shopping the 2023 Boxing Day sales

1. Shop carefully

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) provides great consumer protection but doesn’t require retailers to provide a refund if you buy something and change your mind about it.

Consumer communications and campaigns manager Jessica Walker said it can be easy to “get swept up in a buying frenzy”, however once you’ve bought something, the retailer is not obliged to provide you with a refund if you change your mind or circumstances change.

Some stores do however have generous returns policies.

2. Don’t fall for the hype

Some promotions aren’t always what they seem, Walker warns.

“Don’t fall for a massive discount on a ‘usual’ price without checking the ‘usual’ price. The actual savings could be very different from the advertised offering,” she said.

“Different stores will have different ‘usual’ prices, too. Check out PriceSpy and PriceMe to gauge the real value of any items that catch your eye.”

3. Don’t believe the disclaimers

Limitations or blanket disclaimers on sale items like “no refunds” or “no exchanges” are misleading.

“Whether you purchase an item on sale or not, you have rights under both the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and the Fair Trading Act (FTA). We think a store that displays a ‘no refunds’ sign is breaching the FTA.”

“If you get your heavily discounted air fryer home on Boxing Day and it doesn’t work, you are entitled to a refund – even if the retailer said ‘no refunds’.”

4. Don’t waste your money on warranties

Under the CGA, manufacturers and retailers must guarantee the products they sell. This includes guaranteeing that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for their purpose.

“If your product develops a fault when it’s still reasonably new, the retailer is required to sort the problem – even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired,” Walker said.

“You’re already covered. Say no to extended warranties, and don’t be fobbed off by a store trying to tell you a product is out of warranty.”

5. Know your consumer rights

Getting to know your rights may save you money and hassle in the long run, Walker said.

Research from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment found that almost 50 per cent of 18 to 26-year-olds are likely to leave a complaint unresolved due to gaps in consumer knowledge.

“Get to know your rights under the CGA using our handy explainer so you’re confident exercising them.”

Brodie Stone is the education and general news reporter at the Advocate. Brodie has spent most of her life in Whangārei and is passionate about delving into issues that matter to Northlanders and beyond.

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