Retail boxing its way out of 2020 with festive business boom at Stockland Shellharbour

Shantyl Everingham, of Novo Shoes, is among hundreds of retailers banking on a big finish to 2020 after a challenging year.

It appears her greatest wish is coming true with near record business leading up to Christmas at Stockland Shellharbour. And signs Boxing Day sales from 9am Saturday will be just as big.

Christmas, New Year and Back To School are traditionally the busiest times of the year in retail. And this holiday season has never been more important to business owners and the community after the economic and mental impacts of COVID-19.

Feedback from centre managers and business owners is everyone is so grateful to be able to come out and celebrate Christmas this year that no one seems to mind standing in a queue and maintaining a safe social distance.

Stockland Shellharbour's David Buchanan said people are so polite and patient.

Which shows just how happy everyone is to come out and say goodbye to 2020 with a bang.

Mr Buchanan said the shopping centre had never seen a queue at the fish market like the one that started at 6am on Christmas Eve but the experience the security team had managing social distancing at Easter meant it all ran smoothly with everyone keeping a safe social distance.

Mr Buchanan that came after a busy month leading up to Christmas with strong shopping centre traffic since the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

"It is as good as we have seen it from a trade point of view since the beginning of November," he said.

"And we are finding the basket sizes are higher this year. Traffic is pretty much where we expected it but people are spending more per visit. One of our single biggest points of difference is the abundant free parking and the big mix of retailers."

Mr Buchanan said after the year that was 2020 everyone was ready to have something to celebrate at home. And he is expecting that to carry through to the New Year sales.

Mr Buchanan said there were no stand out gifts in terms of popularity for Christmas this year but fresh food, tech products, PlayStation consoles, jewellery and fashion were big.

"People are splashing out a bit more and saying lets make it a great Christmas after such a challenging year," he said.

Mr Buchanan said he is anticipating a desire for people to get out and enjoy themselves at the shopping centre between 9am and 5pm on Boxing Day.

He said many of the eateries will stay open much later.

Mr Buchanan expects people will do things like visit the shopping centre and the cinema and maybe even dine out afterwards while they are in the city centre.

He said that was important to the local community and economy.

"In any year the proportion of sales the retailers do in November, December and January is very critical to their performance over the course of the year," Mr Buchanan said.

"But this year we know that importance has been amplified by the year that was.

"They are all very much enjoying the increase in business they have been getting in recent weeks.

"They are pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful.

"And with all the sales and specials centre wide on Boxing Day they are expecting the increase in trade to continue.

"Generally our foot traffic on Boxing Day makes it the number one day of the year for people through the doors.

"And locals tend to bring their visitors so this year we are expecting more. We are thrilled to have the marina development happening and we are expecting an enormous benefit from that."

Mr Buchanan said it was like living in a different era to the dark times of March, April, May when NSW went into lock down.

He said water going into the Marina was also exciting and people from outside Shellharbour coming to check that out were also calling into the centre.

Mr Buchanan is expecting the fashion outlets to be particularly busy with young adults on on Boxing Day.

He said it is also a day when many come in to redeem their gift cards.

Novo's Shantyl Everingham said it had been a particularly busy period leading up to Christmas and she is expecting a big day on Boxing Day when stock is marked down by an additional 30 per cent.

"The Black Friday weekend was very good and we are expecting to match that or do even better on Boxing Day," she said.

Michael Yaglipina opened the new Hometown Fresh Market on Sunday and has been amazed by the amount of traffic past his business and the amount of trade he is doing.

Boxing Day Boom: Lauren Clapham and Kate Fonseca at Edge celebrate the bumper Christmas trade with Stockland Shellharbour centre manager Daniel Buchanan. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Boxing Day Boom: Lauren Clapham and Kate Fonseca at Edge celebrate the bumper Christmas trade with Stockland Shellharbour centre manager Daniel Buchanan. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Lauren Clapham and Kate Fonseca at Edge said they have done great trade all year at Stockland Shellharbour and were expecting 2020 to end with a bang.

"We are already doing really well," Ms Fonseca said.

"We are doing amazing figures."

Ms Clapham said the specials were shop wide on Saturday.

"Stockland has been amazing. The whole centre has been busy. It is so nice to come here to shop."

Mr Buchanan said that was partly because the employment profile of the Shellharbour area meant many people had jobs that were not as dramatically impacted by COVID-19 as other population centres.

He said there was also an increase in visitation from people who have been unable to travel overseas.

SDA NSW/ACT Secretary Bernie Smith said asthe Covid outbreak in Sydney grows, SDA is asking everyone in Sydney and NSW to keep their cool, keep their distance and wear a mask when shopping to help protect not just retail workers, but our wider community.

"Face masks and social distancing are vital health measures we can all follow during this most recent outbreak. The health and safety of retail workers as well as our general community depend on it," Mr Smith said.

"Take extra precaution around the Boxing Day sales. Remember they are not a one day event. This year stay home and enjoy Boxing Day with your close family or friends and avoid the crowds.

"The reality is the Boxing Day sales usually run for about two weeks after Christmas. There is plenty of time to bag a bargain and stay safe too. Plan your sale visits over subsequent days to promote social distancing and help keep workers and fellow shoppers as safe as possible.

"Retail workers and fast food workers deserve a break. They are frontline workers and they're trying to do the best job they can. Show them respect, keep your cool and follow the rules. Don't get frustrated, remember no one deserves a serve."

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This story Retail boxes way out of 2020 with festive business boom at Stockland Shellharbour first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.