Boxing Day shoppers have been urged to stay home – but retailers are worried a lack of in-store customers could mean “considerable” losses.
Boxing Day shoppers have been urged to stay home – but retailers are worried a lack of in-store customers could mean “considerable” losses.

Fear of virus spread in Boxing Day crowds

Retailers fear losing out on a "considerable" chunk of Boxing Day sales after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on shoppers to boycott Sydney's CBD.

Ms Berejiklian called on Sydneysiders to avoid the CBD on Boxing Day in a bid to stymie the spread of coronavirus while her chief health officer Kerry Chant told consumers to buy online.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants shoppers to boycott Sydney’s CBD on Boxing Day to stymie the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone / NCA NewsWire
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants shoppers to boycott Sydney’s CBD on Boxing Day to stymie the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone / NCA NewsWire

She said NSW Health still had concerns about the potential spread of the virus in the city centre as several of cases "did present in the CBD".

"We know that tomorrow is traditionally for Boxing Day sales and … and we know this is not the easiest message to give those retailers," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Christmas morning.

"We want to discourage people going to the CBD tomorrow, please limit your activity. If you are going shopping in the CBD, make sure you wear a mask.

"Think twice before you go to the CBD tomorrow … because you have people coming from all over Sydney coming to one location."

Shoppers walk the streets during the Boxing Day sales in the Sydney CBD last year. This year shoppers are being told to buy online or locally and to avoid the CBD. Picture: Steven Saphore
Shoppers walk the streets during the Boxing Day sales in the Sydney CBD last year. This year shoppers are being told to buy online or locally and to avoid the CBD. Picture: Steven Saphore

The call to avoid the CBD Boxing Day sales comes as NSW recorded seven locally acquired cases of COVID-19 until 8pm on Christmas Eve with an additional three cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Four of the locally acquired cases are linked to the Avalon cluster, which has now reached 108.

National Retailers Association CEO Dominique Lamb said retailers will be devastated financially by the call to boycott Sydney's CBD on Boxing Day.

Ms Lamb said that it would hit retailers "quite considerably" and they would not have been expecting the direction from the NSW Premier and chief health officer to avoid heading into the heart of Sydney.

Dominique Lamb, CEO of the National Retail Association, says the call to Boxing Day sales in Sydney’s CBD is going hit retailers hard. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Dominique Lamb, CEO of the National Retail Association, says the call to Boxing Day sales in Sydney’s CBD is going hit retailers hard. Photographer: Liam Kidston

"The reality is, most Boxing Day sales are in-store and in NSW they are likely to contribute $914 million," Ms Lamb told NCA NewsWire.

"So if people are being advised not to be out and about, the economy will suffer."

Dr Chant acknowledged retailers and small businesses had worked hard to put in place COVID-safe plans.

However, she still wanted as few shoppers as possible in the CBD on Boxing Day and said that those who do go should wear a mask.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says shoppers should buy online during the Boxing Day sales. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone / NCA NewsWire/
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says shoppers should buy online during the Boxing Day sales. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone / NCA NewsWire/

"Please, shop online, shop locally. Defer and delay and avoid crowded environments," she said.

Many retailers have already started posting their Boxing Day sales online.

At the stroke of midnight, bargains began appearing online, allowing consumers to start buying in between snapping a bonbon and gorging on Christmas pudding.

For instance, Sydney electrical giant Bing Lee is offering $600 of selected Hisense TVs and several hundred dollars of laptops in what it calls its "sale of the year" event.

Shoppers were able to start clicking for sales from 12.01am Christmas Day.

Originally published as Fear of virus spread in Boxing Day crowds


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