Intricately tied in with the tradition of Christmas we also have the Boxing day sales. Its one of the few days a year where the vast carparks of shopping malls completely overflow due to the demand for shopping that cars often floods out onto the streets. People can spend just as much time getting to the mall and finding a car park as they can shopping itself. And we often get reports about it in media, like this from the NZ Herald:

Traffic was one of the biggest headaches – cars were nose-to-tail for more than 500m from Westfield’s St Lukes mall in Auckland, while the motorway was backed up a similar distance at the Sylvia Park exit.

When the Herald visited St Lukes, it took more than half an hour to get a park, and only after a man led the way to his soon-to-be-empty space.

Some shoppers reported circling the carpark for up to an hour before finding an empty spot.

I don’t know about you but sitting in heavy traffic for 500m and then circling and looking for a car park for 30 minutes to an hour is not my idea of fun, it’s also hardly the ‘freedom’ cars are promised to give us. Perhaps in future, this day more than any other is something that Auckland Transport should consider targeting to try and get people using public transport to do their shopping. This should especially be the case once we get our new PT network implemented with a lot more high frequency services giving much better coverage across the region.

Some people like to argue that shopping isn’t easy without a car but personally I think that is largely nonsense. Most shopping at malls consists items small enough to fit into bags and is perfectly easy to carry on a bus or train, my Christmas shopping for example fit into just a handful of bags and was easy enough to carry with me on a train.

So come on AT, how about a bit of a campaign next year about using PT to do boxing day shopping as in many cases it would sure beat the alternative of sitting in your car circling for a park for 30 minutes.

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  1. We need more home delivery, and jap style takyubin. The courier market is all rigged for business use only, if you ring them they want your a/c number first thing.

    1. I just had a quick read on takyubin. What a fantastc idea. Sylvia Park would be a prime spot for an NZ Post depot to deal with this kind of scenario. Just catch the train. Drop the shopping off at the NZ Post store, for next day delivery, and hop back on the train for the ride home – or to the movies or a bar for a night out. No need to return home. Edit: there is already an NZ Post store there. With some thought to packaging in boxes or something and a bit of promotion it could happen tomorrow. The rail network needs to be operating of course – roll on Dec 2013.

      1. NZ Post are diversifying to do similar sorts of things e.g. their YouShop service, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this would appeal to them.

  2. I didn’t bother with boxing day shopping as I just thought with limited PT what a nightmare parking a car would be.

    Reading the Herald report I wondered if the Herald reporter was in a company car with The NZ Herald on the side which may have helped to get a park assist within 30 mins otherwise she might’ve been driving around for an hour as well.

    I also wonder whether if no britomart rail had an impact on shopper numbers in the cbd on boxing day. If it was available I would have probably found myself in there for a look but without it, forget it.

    1. It’s a good point Lucy. You can’t expect too much from PT services on a public holiday. Perhaps a stripped back service for boxing day only in this set of public holidays. Closer to Sunday running. It’s not just shopping demand, theyre’s also other event demand on boxing day for PT such as Ellerslie races.

    2. Infrastructure needs to work when needed… now that the shops are doing it our transport should too. Or we all drop this habit of going to malls and everyone take a holiday like originally intended.

  3. The retail sector doesn’t seem to have any major issues with staffing. When I worked in retail i was always really keen to work stats as I got paid at effectively 2.5 times my normal rate (I was on a casual contract so I just got paid out my day in lue). – of course this does mean that staffing is very expensive on stat holidays.

  4. Good idea but AT is highly unlikely to do anything about Boxing Day services if its past record is anything to go by. As this blog has observed on a number of occasions, AT appears to be primarily concerned with peak hour commuters entering or exiting the CBD during the working week. Heaven forfend that it should even consider the needs of ‘non-productive’ travellers, especially those who shop on a public holiday or during a weekend and want to use PT. I can almost guarantee that the rail network will be closed next Boxing Day and the suckers who venture to use the rail replacement service will find themselves riding on smelly, noisy, awkward, late model buses providing a roughly hourly service like they’ve done this year and for the past three years. And, no doubt, like this year, they won’t be able to use their Hop cards because some bright spark at AT will probably sign off a contract for rail replacement services with a bus provider who doesn’t have Hop compliant machines. Oh and I wouldn’t trust NZ Post to deliver anything next day; their track record is appalling especially with parcel deliveries to domestic addresses.

    1. I bet AT/KR will find a reason for a Christmas shutdown next year even though the hard work should be completed, it seams to have become part of the culture.
      Just as hard as convincing AT to run trains and a better bus service over the holidays will be convincing the public to use it. Using PT for CBD work trips is one thing, more wide spread use of PT is another! That would be a big culture change that I don’t think Auckland is ready to accept just yet

  5. I usually avoid Boxing Day sales like the plague but this year we had a reason to go so went early.. No parking hassles, no queues, no stress. If I had been going by myself a bit later, I would have considered bussing but PT is pretty expensive when you have to drag the whole family along.

    Oh and I second the comment about courier deliveries. 99 times out of 100, I have to get in my car to get them from the depot because they have an uncanny knack of knowing the precise time you won’t be at home.

  6. I have far better things to do on a public holiday than going shopping. Paying T2.5 to staff is just madness, but no retailer wants to be the first to remain closed on a public holiday. With that level of wages and large discounts on most items, some retailers would be better off having a day off work.

    What about the staff as well? How many were at work on Christmas Eve, then Christmas Day off and back to work the next day? If the public can’t cope with no shopping for two consecutive days, we seriously have a problem.

    1. “but no retailer wants to be the first to remain closed on a public holiday”

      If you ask many retailers would like to be shut on these days, but the malls won’t allow it, their lease requires them to be open the same hours that the mall is. And you don’t see the likes of Westfield or KIPT closing their malls over the Boxing Day etc public holidays these days do you?

      Heck the mall owners bristle now about being closed for 3.5 days a year (Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day to 1pm, Christmas Day) as it is, so there is little hope for any retailer being able to close those other days like Boxing Day etc.

      Even if they get the same $ sales if they closed those days, they still open regardless.

      And PT (especially for the malls like Sylvia Park and Lynmall who are right next to train stations) should “come on board”.
      Of course the last few years the trains have been out of action over this time as the network is upgraded, but in the future this will all change.

    2. “What about the staff as well” Good point. I work in retail and the retailers want their pond of flesh from the workers. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are stat holidays, but if they happen to fall on your rostered days off then the bosses expect you to work on the 27th with no overtime rate, no lieu days or any other benefits. For me, because Tues & Wed are my normal days off, Christmas week was exactly like any other except that you have to prepare on Xmas eve for the “Boxing Day Sale” which has become ingrained in the culture.

        1. Wow, you lucked out in terms of Christmas/ new year stat days this year.

          However workers who do end up working on boxing day (the 26th) are well looked after by NZ employment law. When I worked in retail I enjoyed working the stat days, cos the pay was really good.

  7. Good point. I had the misfortune to be in Albany shopping on Boxing day. What a car circus that place is. Alot of empty space and big wide roads that people are dodgy cars constantly like frogger. Highlights again the ridiculous planning in the area. I saw a bus sign board, think it was an hour or more between buses.

  8. How sad going shopping on Boxing Day, especially when the sales last for about 3 days and then there are the New Year sales. Do you seriously save much by going shopping on Boxing Day.
    Maybe there was more traffic this year because of the weather.
    Also who pays for providing more service on Boxing Day, wouldn’t it come through more subsidy paid by AT as I’m sure the operator wouldn’t pay..

  9. The post xmas shopping culture is a big opportunity for many places like New Lynn and Sylvia Park to work with AT to grow off peak services. New Lynn has offered free delivery in the past, they may still.

    Xmas 2014 should have the services in place on rail and many new bus routes…

  10. My wife and I talked about this, as we left Sylvia park around 1130. The number of people and the queues for the carparks was something to behold at that time. We arrived at 830 and had no issues.

    I would have thought it would have been relatively simple for Auckland transport to run a simple shuttle down the eastern line from the city, or orakei if the city was out, to otahuhu, maybe two trains going back and forth. I really think they missed an opportunity.

    1. Thing is they should do it properly, put on a frequent all day service and advertise the bejesus out of it. If it costs more to staff charge it to the marketing budget…. But maybe wait for the EMUs?

  11. I am flabbergasted that there is inadequate PT on boxing day – one of the biggest days of the year for shopping as well as events (predominantly racing)

    Chalk another one up for “only in NZ…..”.

  12. The rail line is on its annual close down and has I think two to three more of those to go before we expect to see (passenger) trains running on Boxing Day and the likes – due to electrification upgrades, so will have to bite the bullet there for that duration. As for buses – I suppose we could step up to 10min frequencies on Boxing Day for services that go to or near a mall of some description or as some said above run special shuttle services.

    But the better question to ask “Why do you need to go to the Boxing Day sales.” The sale discount levels advertised so far are exactly the same as New Years, Auckland Anniversary Weekend and for the ones who like to haggle, the end of tax year sales as retailers offload before stock take and the new financial cycle begins – so you are not missing much if anything…

      1. Knowing our luck with things – yes the electrification will be finished but still most likely have some heavy track work being done somewhere with the amount of speed restrictions we still face due to the tracks.

        It also just occurred that the third main is slowly under way and if 2014 we get a err “change” and full “support” the third main could be very well “extended”

  13. I wanted to get a couple of things from St Lukes, my closest mall. Thankfully I went by bike and sailed through the carpark that was St Lukes Rd. I didn’t have a family to take and didn’t need to buy a lot but I really like the idea of malls offering a delivery service. Had I needed to buy more than I could carry in a backpack that would be a great solution. Other observation – very few bikes parked at the mall, I wonder why more people don’t use this mode.

  14. That article suggest that the strong malls are OK for now, but the smaller dieing malls should be demolished. Our retail sector is full of malls the are past there use by date! Its survival of the fittest out there

    1. Yes and that’s always the case in the commercial environment but the question remains; what is the best fit for the coming age? Because, as I’m sure you know, that phrase of Darwin’s refers to the likely evolutionary success of a life-form depending on the quality of its ‘fit’ to a particular environment, not just to how strong or big it is [the ‘fit-est’].

      Biggest has been best in retail in the auto-age and location has been secondary to easy parking and driving access, this model is still being invested in heavily in west and north of Auckland. There are signs though that we are nearing the end of this phase, I would expect less auto-dependant retail integrated with its community to make a comeback in the medium to long term, say later this decade. I do see an opportunity for retail centres with good Transit links to work with AT to make sure they coordinate their services and marketing for mutual benefit. I also expect there will be a certain revival of the smaller local but also online sales to keep taking a chunk out of physical. And along with these shifts I expect a growth in the delivery service sector too.

      When is the harder question, a lot will depend on the actual or perceived rise in driving costs [both in time and money]. The quality of Transit service Auckland gets through the current Great Upgrade is an important factor too.

    2. Check out our local mall; Southmall at Manurewa. The only shop worth entering is New World and they are bludgers who pay the minimum wage to most staff. How many $2 shops do you need in one mall?

  15. yeah, my favoured solution would be to make it a full stat and just close everything except for absolute necessities like we do on Christmas Day. I mean really, would it be such a tragedy if we had 5 full public holidays in NZ when you couldn’t go and buy stuff?

    1. I’m with you Lucy but I considering the hard time they have keeping stores closed over Easter I think it’s a loosing battle. It would be a brave mall to try and start that trend :-).

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