SocietyDecember 19, 2016

Kmart vs The Warehouse: 2016 clash of the Christmas superstores


The Warehouse and Kmart are two of the busiest stores throughout the Christmas season. But which one is better? Madeleine Chapman dived deep into affordable late-night shopping and emerged with a scoresheet.

We’ve all been there, desperately trying to find the last box of fairy lights because someone stepped on just one of the bulbs and now the whole tree is dark. It’s 10:30pm on the 23rd of December at The Warehouse. Or maybe Kmart. No, definitely The Warehouse. But what about Kmart’s home decor section?

It’s a debate as old as time: last minute Christmas shopping at The Warehouse versus last minute Christmas shopping at Kmart.

I conducted a comprehensive test of late-night Christmas shopping at both The Warehouse and Kmart in St Lukes. Before you Warehouse-heads call foul because The Warehouse St Lukes is the worst one in Auckland, I’m sorry. They’re just both near my house.

I visited both stores last Wednesday at approximately 10pm. In order to be as authentic as possible, I was a little bit drunk (I caught the bus, don’t drink and drive) and had a slight fever because that’s the health status of most Christmas shoppers. The criteria was simple – each store was judged on the following: opening hours, Christmas lights and decorations (for sale), store layout, general vibe, staff availability, Christmas chocolates, toy section, checkout wait time, and parking.

And so, my findings.

Opening hours

Winner: Draw

Both stores are now open till midnight except for Christmas Eve when they both close at 9pm. Kmart loses a point because one of their workers lied and told me they were open till 10pm on Xmas Eve. But they get that point back for being open till midnight every other day of the year and APPARENTLY IT’S A SECRET BECAUSE I NEVER KNEW THIS UNTIL NOW.

EDIT: I just learned that Kmart is in fact open 24 hours until 9pm Xmas Eve. This doesn’t change much, including the fact that I was lied to and am still hurt by it.

Christmas lights and decorations

Winner: The Warehouse


I thought The Warehouse was gonna lose this race because they had the saddest collection of lights I’d ever seen. But turns out Kmart didn’t even enter so The Warehouse wins in the same way that guy won Olympic ice skating gold because everyone else fell over.

Store layout

Winner: The Warehouse

It's all right there
It’s all right there

Is it even Christmas at Kmart? They have a giving tree by the entrance (The Warehouse has a less pretty ‘giving box’ and both are good things) but otherwise you’d think it was July. It’s straight into the women’s clothing section where you’ll find the candy canes but only if you were already planning to buy a stripey singlet dress. The Warehouse threw everything Christmas-y within 15m of both the entrance and the checkout, which is exactly what you want when you’re running in and your sister is circling the carpark until you get back.

General vibe

Winner: Kmart

Despite not seeming to have much of anything in the way of Christmas necessities, Kmart still managed to capture the Christmas spirit. There were carols playing quietly over the speaker system. And the mood lighting in the Oversized Round Mirrors section is a selfie trap second to none.

Meanwhile at The Warehouse, I spent a few moments wondering if I had somehow snuck in when the store was actually closed. It was dim, quiet, and I was surrounded by workers doing night fill. It was pretty grim, but at the same time, I couldn’t turn a corner without having a worker there to help me with something.


Winner: Neither, they’re both nightmares

It’s near impossible to find a park at St Lukes anytime the mall is actually open, and The Warehouse has approximately 15 parks for all its customers. The good news for The Warehouse is none of its neighbouring stores are open that late so they have more space. But at late-night Kmart you can park and also be in the mall where there’s food (and other stores I suppose). Either way, getting dropped off is always the best option.

Staff availability

Winner: The Warehouse

Grim scenes either way imo
Grim scenes either way imo

There’s an irony to this. When I went to Kmart it was fairly busy and so in my walk around the entire store I didn’t even come across a single employee. Which is bad. Whereas in The Warehouse, it was so sadly desolate that there were staff members everywhere. It’s the age-old hipster dilemma: No one bothers with this place/band, I’ll have it all to myself. But maybe there’s a reason no one’s bothering with it…

Toy section

Winner: Kmart


Everything about St Lukes Kmart is bigger than St Lukes Warehouse so it’s no surprise that their toy section is far superior. Yes, The Warehouse has all the standard things like a tonne of pool noodles (are pool noodles really that popular?) and Nerf guns. But Kmart has everything, including a stuffed toy of a reindeer’s head that can be mounted on the wall, just like every child dreams of.

Christmas chocolates

Winner: The Warehouse

For two reasons. Those chocolate wafer things and those chocolate pringle things.

Directions: eat until you hate yourself
Directions: eat until you hate yourself

Checkout wait time

Winner: Kmart

This one was tricky. The line at Kmart was longer simply because there were actually people in the store. My guess is that with all their self-checkout machines, Kmart would be more efficient during peak hours. The Warehouse only has a few checkouts but I’ve never had to wait long there because there are never any customers.

Celebrity endorsements

Winner: The Warehouse

Huge if true

Worst Christmas Gift Idea

Winner/Loser: The Warehouse

For selling school uniforms. And before you say that no parent would give their kid a school uniform for Christmas, when I was 10 my parents gave me an empty Westpac bank account for Christmas. How might one physically gift a bank account, you ask? They gift-wrapped the deposit book.

Me unwrapping my deposit book at age ten
Me unwrapping my deposit book at age ten

The Verdict

The Warehouse: Christmas essentials 10/10, everything else 6/10

Total – 16/20

It really is the place to go for those last minute ‘get the same thing for all your kids’ teachers’ shopping trips. The rest of the store is good but not great.

Kmart: Christmas essentials 5/10, everything else 8/10

Total – 13/20

Honestly, you’re not going to find much tinsel here but if you think you might buy a ceramic vase for a plant you don’t even own, head to the home section and you won’t come out for ten years.


However, in the spirit of Christmas and diplomacy, I turn to the Old El Paso girl to ask for a final decision on which of these giants we should be visiting in the days leading up to Christmas.


This content is brought to you by AUT. As a contemporary university we’re focused on providing exceptional learning experiences, developing impactful research and forging strong industry partnerships. Start your university journey with us today.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox