Shoppers descended on malls all over the country yesterday as the Christmas rush began.
At Westfield St Lukes in Auckland, the carpark was full at times during the day.
A customer service representative said crowds were bigger than at the same time last year.
At K-Mart the big-ticket item for families was trampolines.
Fashion jewellery store Pandora had a steady stream of customers, according to sales assistant Sarah Jordan.
"We always have a promotion around this time. But it's definitely busier than last year. The car park yesterday was crazy, you could not get in."
Shoppers also flocked to The Base, a large indoor and outdoor shopping centre in Hamilton.
Heathcote Appliances sales and marketing manager John Heathcote said sales at the chain, which included a store at The Base, were steady but each year buyers were leaving it later to start shopping.
Mr Heathcote said the store's most-bought items were tablets, TVs and remote-control helicopters.
At Toyworld The Base the old favourite, Lego, was high in popularity again this year, with Lego Friends Dolphin Cruiser for 7- to 12-year-olds in the number one spot.
At Pennys' Bookstore in Hamilton's Westfield Chartwell mall, owner Sheryl Penny said children's books were selling well.
Popular picks included satirical series The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and David Williams' Demon Dentist.
"They're all doing kids' books at the moment because they want to get it done before school finishes.
"They don't want to be doing their kids' Christmas shopping when the children are with them."
Mrs Penny said large numbers of adult books usually did not sell until the week up to Christmas Day.
Westfield spokeswoman Deb McGhie said people had realised only two weekends remained before Christmas.
"You can definitely sense that Christmas shopping has clicked in. I think that's indicative across the country."
At Westfield's St Lukes mall, customer Mike Kilpatrick said he was exhausted after a 90-minute shopping spree with his children Caitlin, 11, and Alex, 9.
"We are buying for everyone, most of the family and friends," he said. "It's quite a big family, 10 or 11, and it's been pretty hard everyone wants different things."
Mr Kilpatrick said he started his shopping in mid-November and was almost finished.
"I usually do my shopping as early as possible. I hate malls at Christmas time."
Nicky Levet, from New Windsor, was out with her mother, Gill Stevenson, and 6-year-old son, Sam Manson. She said she also tried to get her festive shopping completed as early as possible.
"Normally I get to the sales during the year and put stuff away, but this year I haven't."
Christmas hot list
* iPads, TVs and remote control helicopters
*The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books
- additional reporting: Morgan Tait