THE age of the Boxing Day sales starting with a bang are over. These digital days, the trample or be trampled approach to discount shopping has been diluted by cyber space. After all, what's the rush now that Boxing Day bargains are on offer on Christmas Eve?
But it hasn't always been so. There was a time when the risk of being injured in the rush for reduced wrapping, cut-price cards and discounted decorations was very, very real. In 1992, a woman lost the tips of two fingers when her hand was caught in a roller door at Japanese department store Daimaru, in Melbourne Central. Ten years ago, Myer was forced to repeatedly turn off its escalators because of the sheer number of people on them.
But things have changed. While the big department stores still make a fuss of opening early, some city shops didn't bother.
Clothing store Scanlan & Theodore and gift shop Rap Products were among a minority of retailers who decided to give Boxing Day a miss. For them, post-Christmas trade begins on Thursday.
Sticking with tradition were Myer and David Jones which opened their flagship Pitt Street Mall stores at 5am. An estimated 400 people queued in a ''very orderly'' fashion outside Myer and hundreds more gathered outside David Jones.
Nine-year-old Holly Rempt had a sleep-in on Christmas Day compared to her 3.55am wake-up call to get to the Boxing Day sales.
''She was shocked, she has never been up this early in her life,'' said her mother, Kristy, in Pitt Street Mall. The pair travelled from their home in Cromer and lined up at 4.30 for the opening of Myer at 5. The online sales were not tempting enough to lure them away from bricks and mortar shops.
''We like to try everything on. That's really important to us. We've been burned in the past,'' Ms Rempt said.
One of the largest lines in the city was outside Gucci on Castlereagh Street, where sisters Daniella and Jess Maalla, from Marrickville, were queuing.
Jess had her eye on a particular handbag. ''Gucci is never on sale,'' said Daniella.
The Australian National Retailers Association tipped spending nationally to top $1.8 billion.
Its chief executive, Margy Osmond, used Boxing Day to urge the NSW government to change its public holiday restrictions on trade outside tourist precincts.
Despite restrictions on bricks and mortar trade, the National Retail Association chief executive, Trevor Evans said the nation's retailers had reason to be optimistic. He said this year's interest rate cuts, solid wage growth and a possible lull in declining house prices had boosted hopes Boxing Day 2012 would be an improvement on last year. Mr Evans also said the high Australian dollar had allowed retailers to import Christmas sales stock at cheaper prices.
However, retailers are increasingly trying to maximise click traffic while still keeping an eye on foot traffic. And for good reason. About 8 per cent of online Christmas spending headed overseas and Boxing Day sales are increasingly engineered to capitalise on the trend.
Though reluctant to reveal online sales data, David Jones, Myer and Dick Smith were among the retailers who began their discounting online as early as Christmas Eve.