An archaic piece of legislation preventing Wollongong retailers trading on Boxing Day left hordes of would-be shoppers wandering around a closed Crown Street Mall yesterday.
In a bizarre classification anomaly, shoppers in Shellharbour were free to take advantage of the sales because the city falls under the category of a "holiday destination".
Edith and Ian Wilson were two of many residents spotted peering into dark windows on Crown Street yesterday morning.
The couple, who have lived in the region for six years, said they had managed to find a place serving coffee but had hit a brick wall searching for Boxing Day sales.
"I think it's rather sad - there are so many people wandering around," Mrs Wilson said.
"I wanted to go and do some shopping - that's why we're here."
Mr Wilson said he had even been approached by people from out of town wanting to know when the stores would be open.
Didi Kello and Tomoko Hasebe, who have lived in Wollongong for about five years, were surprised to find Wollongong's Myer with its lights off.
"We just saw on TV this morning that Sydney shops were open at 6am," Ms Kello said.
For Ms Hasebe, who works in IT, yesterday was her only opportunity during the Christmas break to do any shopping.
"They need to rethink the regulation, they need to change it," she said.
Though shoppers might support Boxing Day trading, South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said retail workers needed time off as well.
"We think everyone is entitled to a break at Christmas time," he said.
"I understand the argument for sales but you have to be able to draw the line somewhere.
"We think getting a day on Boxing Day for those that work in retail is pretty important, and that outweighs the need for people to shop 364 days a year."
Mr Rorris said legislation should be "squared up across the board" and shops in Shellharbour also prevented from opening.
"Those in the retail industry deserve to keep that day for themselves and their families," he said.