There were big turnouts at all Illawarra shopping centres on Saturday.
Many heeded the warning from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to maintain a safe social distance and wear a mask.
Wollongong Central was the first shopping centre to open at 8am.
Centre manager Jasmin North said the day started quietly then steadily built and was quite busy by 11am and remained so well into the afternoon.
There were noticeably many families and couples out shopping together.
Peter Alexander had a socially distanced queue all day at Wollongong and Stockland Shellharbour as did many other stores who had COVID marshals encouraging people to remain socially distanced.
Other shops with queues most of the day were Pandora, Mimco, Surf Dive n Ski, Hype, City Beach, General Pants Co. And many shops had staff helping people apply hand sanitiser.
Ms North said people were very relaxed and orderly and what she was noticing this year since the arrival of COVID-19 is a growing purposeful shopper trend.
"They have planned and they are organised after doing their research," she said.
"They are not shopping as often or staying as long but they are spending significantly more."
Stockland Shellharbour opened at 9am and had people waiting at doors from 8.45am.
Shopping traffic remained steady all day and was similar to last year.
Among the first to arrive was Tammy Workman, of Shellharbour, her sister Lyn Workman and the rest of her family.
"I shop on Boxing Day every year," Mrs Workman said.
"Our kids get $200 each for Christmas. There are five of them and we always bring them shopping on the morning of Boxing Day.
"This year we have come to Stockland Shellharbour. Last year we went shopping in Sydney.
"I like coming here because it is so big and has a variety of shops. There is something they all like and something for all ages here. My oldest child is 30 and the youngest is seven."
Sisters Amelia and Abby Schubert, of Shellharbour, said they also come out to the Boxing Day sales every year.
They were especially keen to visit Peter Alexander because of the 50 per cent off sale and didn't mind having to queue and maintain a safe social distance from others.
"We are going to line up at Pandora next," Amelia said.
"I have never seen it this busy."
Amelia said she was happy to support retail after such a challenging year for everyone. And suggested some retail therapy was a great way to end the year.
Kristi Babic wore a mask to Stockland because she wanted to be as COVID safe as possible.
She comes to the Boxing Day sales every year but this is the first time she has done so with a mask.
"I want to protect my family," Ms Babic said.
The Boxing Day sales are set to continue for several days.
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