With only a few days before Christmas, I have adopted the role of that furry green recluse aka The Grinch.

The grumpiness began when I ventured downtown this week to start my Christmas shopping. A queue of cars were slow circling around Devonport and Grey streets all in search of the elusive park.

So great were the crowds of people, all I came back with was a parking ticket. It began to irritate me that at this time of year, the whole world starts to invade the enjoyment of my favourite sport - shopping. In the frenzy of lists and Christmas deadlines, the usual pleasure of the hunt and the purchase is tarnished.

Despite my grumblings, all this pre-Christmas activity is welcome news for Bay retailers. What I see as annoying crowds, is actually welcome footfall for local business people like Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford in our story today who welcomes the confident mood.

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Figures released for the first two weeks of December show Bay shoppers have already spent $140.3 million in the pre-Christmas rush, and $2.2 billion has been spent nationwide - up 7.7 per cent from the same time last year.

The flurry of spending could be in part to do with an increased feel-good factor in the economy in general, but also because of the trend this year for stores to be offering discounts before the Boxing Day sales.

It means, says the New Zealand Retailers Association, that if you are waiting to pounce on something in particular on the sales on Boxing Day, you could be disappointed.

Despite pre-Christmas discounting being widespread, the sales are still expected to be busy. With vouchers being an increasingly popular Christmas gift, many will venture out first thing on Boxing Day to cash them in on a bargain.

For the same Grinch-like reason I avoid shops pre-Christmas, I never shop on Boxing Day. The lure of big discounts for me doesn't outweigh the stress of navigating through frenzied crowds.

Despite my dislike of holiday crowds invading my shopping territory, it is great to see the tills ringing and retailers smiling once again in the Bay. Long may it last, right through the year, and not just for a few weeks.