Shoppers flocked to the Canberra Centre on Boxing Day.

Shoppers flocked to the Canberra Centre on Boxing Day. Photo: Karleen Minney

The most sought-after item during the post-Christmas sales is not electronics or shoes.

David Jones regional manager Ben Webster says it is the humble business shirt.

''We expect to sell 1 million business shirts Australia-wide this year, 115,000 pairs of shoes, half a million towels, 30,000 handbags,'' he said.

No big deal ... A child takes a nap, oblivious to those waiting to start their spree.

No big deal ... A child takes a nap, oblivious to those waiting to start their spree. Photo: Karleen Minney

''When the doors first open, customers will generally head for footwear first, or the women's and menswear departments.''

Hundreds of Canberra shoppers rose early on Wednesday for the annual Boxing Day pilgrimage to the territory's retailers.

By 10am the car park at Civic's Canberra Centre was full and retailers were reporting a strong start to the day's trade.

Shoppers were expected to spend $43 million across the ACT on Wednesday, according to the Australian National Retailers Association.

By December 31, the organisation predicts Canberrans will have spent $105 million on summer bargains.

Australia-wide, the association forecasts that Boxing Day alone will have generated $1.8 billion in sales.

''For the whole sale period - until the middle of January - we would expect the ACT to spend $284 million,'' chief executive Margy Osmond said. ''The reports we've had from David Jones, Harvey Norman and our big retailers is that it's been a pretty solid start.''

Ms Osmond said the retail charge this year was being led by men and that popular items were typically clothing, homewares and electronics.

She said sales for December were expected to be up about 4 per cent on last year, which was ''good but not great''.

The money spent in the ACT on Boxing Day was forecast to be 5.1 per cent higher than what was spent last year.

''The view is that it was a reasonable Christmas but they're [retailers] not quite ready to crack open the champagne,'' she said.

Ms Osmond said retailers had become used to shoppers waiting for Boxing Day and early January sales to do much of their summer shopping.

''That's becoming an entrenched pattern for this time of year,'' she said.

Mr Webster said David Jones' decision to launch its sale online on Christmas Day had proved a successful move, delivering the department store its most successful online shopping day ever.

''We're very, very pleased with the online sale,'' he said.

''It was the first time we've launched online on Christmas Day and we were very happy with the outcome of those sales.

''And we had people queuing up today - we've been really happy with the amount of people in our stores.''