Last minute Christmas shopping frenzy

By Genevieve Helliwell

The pre-Christmas rush has stepped up a gear as last minute shoppers converge on shopping centres searching for gifts.

Despite the rush, most weekend shoppers seemed relaxed as they trawled through the sale racks to find the perfect bargain.

At Bayfair Shopping Centre, finding a car park proved more challenging than finding the perfect gift for shoppers, the Bay of Plenty Times was told.

Motorhome owners Bob Kench and Diane Tunley circled unsuccessfully around the carpark and ended up parking at the Home Zone, on the other side of the railway lines.

"We love Tauranga and we love the Mount which is why we keep coming back and today it's been lovely, everyone is in such good spirits," Mrs Tunley said.

"But our only complaint would be that there's no parking."

Another shopper, who would not be named, said it took more than 20 minutes to find a carpark. But once she was inside the shopping centre, all her angst melted away.

"It's busy but it's not crowded and everyone's got a smile on their face."

"I stupidly left my Christmas shopping until the last minute, which makes it a bit more stressful but I'm not too worried."

Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford said the last couple of weeks had "picked up" after a slow start to December.

"I'd say our foot traffic is about 25,000 per day and we're very happy with that. I came in yesterday about 11am and it was absolutely packed."



He could not estimate how much had been spent at the shopping centre, but said it appeared positive.

"I've spoken to a couple of retailers ... and one has said they're over the moon with how things are going so it's all looking good."

He said retailers were now gearing up for their two busiest days of the year - Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

At Fraser Cove Shopping Centre, the mood was pleasant yesterday as shoppers picked up last minute supplies, retailers said.

Antoinette Seshie, manager of John's at Fraser Cove Pharmacy said working over the pre-Christmas period had been "lovely".

"This year has been very lovely for a change. This year, people are in the spirit of Christmas where as last year was tough because of the recession."

"It's manic but people aren't crazy, possibly because trading hours this year are a bit longer.

"We are seeing a lot of people ... but it's been fun and it's been good for retailers too. Sales are up, figures are up, retailers and happy and shoppers are happy - everyone's happy, it's great."

Shoppers in the central city were in good spirits and a steady stream of people walked up and down Devonport Rd yesterday despite a mixed bag of weather that brought periods of sunshine, rain and cloud.

In Mount Maunganui, the shops along the main street were quieter than usual, as many families were on the beach having a picnic. Local cafes were booming and supermarket carparks were full as people stocked up ahead of Christmas.

Papamoa couple Geoff Hickson and Stella Cressey went to the supermarket about lunchtime, after the morning rush.

"It's like this every year, it always happens, we expect it to be busy but it hasn't been too bad today," Mr Hickson said.

In the Bay of Plenty shoppers have spent more money ahead of Christmas than they did last year.

Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, saw just over $208.6 million spent in the Bay in the past three weeks. This was $7.6 million (or 4 per cent) more than the same time last year.

Nationally, $3.2 billion passed through Paymark's network between November 30 and December 20.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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