Raising the flag: Heated debate creates demand for Old Faithful

Unless you’ve been living under one of the Pancake Rocks in the South Island, you would’ve noticed everyone’s in a flap about changing the flag. However, with all this flag chat, how is the spotlight-deprived current flag tracking in terms of sales? It seems as though people are flocking to this safe, well-known icon in times of change.

Two online flag stores, The Flag Shop and Adams Flags, say sales of the current flag are up 60 percent.

The Flag Shop owner and operator Timothy Simpson says most people he’s spoken to are against the flag change coming to fruition.

However, Red Peak inquiries are also booming, he says, as are Kyle Lockwood’s designs (the two near identical silver fern options) but both designs are copyrighted.

Lockwood is experiencing “through the roof” sales, Simpson says, but flags can take up to two weeks to arrive as they’re being dispatched over from Australia.

The Register contacted Kyle Lockwood to ask about these sales but received no response, presumably because he’s so busy selling flags.

Simpson says there’s been minimal interest in the other two flag option finalists: the Alofi Kanter black and white flag, or the Koru design that’s been dubbed “hypnoflag”.

Adams Flags owner Richelle Adams says sales for the current New Zealand flag have been stronger than normal since the beginning of the flag change process.

Flagpole sales are also up, she says.

Adams Flags has the same problem in that all of the flag options being hotly discussed at the moment are subject to copyright.

However, the company will be granted permission to produce a flag if (or when) it becomes the official New Zealand flag.

Adams says just as many people have requested the Red Peak design as Kyle Lockwood’s designs.

As for the country’s biggest secondhand trader, Trade Me, spokesperson Logan Mudge says the site has seen 11,000 listings with the name ‘NZ flag’ in the past year.

“Trade Me often reflects what New Zealanders and talking about a lot. Obviously the flag and the referendum is of huge interest to New Zealanders and we’re definitely seeing that reflected in sales and searches,” Mudge says.

He says the flag category has experienced 59 percent growth in sales in the last year and a 120 percent surge in sales last week.

A quick search for New Zealand flag on the site today brought up 2095 listings.

The majority of the listings are of the current New Zealand flag, showing there’s a huge demand for it.

The biggest surge in searches for ‘NZ flag’ was when the four finalists were released, Mudge says. Interest is now decreasing, but remains high.

Searches for ‘Red Peak’ have also spiked this week since it came to the nation’s attention.

Mudge says there were little to no searches for it last week.

The current flag’s surge in sales may just be a reflection of supply and demand.

As mentioned before, the designs that are being debated are copyrighted, so no stores can produce them without permission.

Red Peak is being sold through two outlets: an ecommerce store and a Pledge Me campaign that is now finished.

The Pledge Me campaign had 276 people pledge money to it, which means at least 276 flags have been produced.

Lockwood’s designs are being sold through one outlet - his site.

It also may be a case of purchasing out of fear of missing out.

When America’s biggest retailers collectively decided to pull the Confederate Flags from their shelves, sales soared for the controversial flag.

It jumped to the top of Amazon’s Patio, Lawn & Garden category, with purchases of some items jumping by more than 5000 percent.

However, it could be also be a reflection of public consensus: various polls have found many in New Zealand are opposed to any flag change.

A One News Colmar Brunton poll from before the final four flags were announced showed 66 percent wanted to keep the current flag.

Whatever design the public settles on, stores selling flags are enjoying the surge in interest – and sales - happily while it lasts.

This article originally appeared on The Register.