Retail makes the headlines for Boxing Day

Tasmanians across the state dragged their pudding-affected selves out of the house and into the streets on Tuesday, in the hopes of snaring a Boxing Day bargain.

Whether the bargains really do exist or are just the result or good advertising is yet to be seen.

What is known for certain is that the spend at this year’s sales was among the largest on record.

The Australian Retailers Association was predicting a spend of nearly $53 million for Tasmania alone, as part of a national $2.3 billion figure – just for the 24 hours of December 26.

The association has further forecast an almost 3 per cent annual increase in “post-Christmas sales” in Tasmania, for the period defined as December 26 to January 15.

Launceston was no stranger to shopping fever. The Brisbane Street Mall was a hive of activity, from seasoned bargain hunters to youngsters getting the most out of their Christmas gift vouchers.

One of the biggest shopping days of the year coincided with a new election announcement from the state Liberals.

The party has long put forward a “tough on crime” approach as one of its key values, represented in policies around scrapping suspended sentences, increasing police officer numbers, and pushing for mandatory sentencing.

Its latest election promise hones in on a crime that the party says costs Tasmanian businesses $216 million a year: shoplifting, or shopstealing, as Tasmania Police prefers to call it.

The promise, to be fulfilled if the Liberals take government as a majority at the 2018 election, would include more power for retailers to ban individuals and inspect customers’ bags, putting more police officers on the beat in shopping precincts, and offer no-interest loans for businesses to install CCTV equipment.

The Examiner knows that police officers have been tied up with shopstealing incidents across Launceston in the lead-up to Christmas, and throughout the year.

Shopstealing, on the surface, might seem like a minor crime. But it adds up  – to $216 million, in fact. It’s frustrating for retailers, and it must be frustrating for police, too.

A crackdown that seeks to reduce its prevalence and leaves our officers, retailers and courts to deal with other matters, is welcomed.