Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Tills ringing with Christmas cheer

Businesses are smiling, frazzled customers are queuing and there are still nine more days of shopping to go.

Santa's Bach was the scene of mirth when Father Christmas received a note about a damaged letterbox. Photo / Michael Craig
Santa's Bach was the scene of mirth when Father Christmas received a note about a damaged letterbox. Photo / Michael Craig

There were screaming children, queues out the door and shoppers weighed down by bags of pressies but that didn't stop the hordes of people who filled Auckland's St Lukes Mall yesterday.

Some shoppers looked a little worse for wear.

"Shopping ain't my thing at all," said one man, who only wanted to give his first name, John.

"I do one trip to the mall when I get all my presents. I thought I might have missed some of the crowds with Christmas still 10 days away but obviously not. I haven't managed to get anything yet."

Dayna Aubrey was more organised, with a list of what she needed to buy after doing her research online.

"I just really try to think about what I'm going to get before I go shopping," she said.

With just one more shopping weekend before Christmas, the Retail Association says this season is lining up to be a good one for business.

Watch a video featuring a new trend for ugly Christmas sweaters here.

Walker and Hall jewellery store's St Lukes branch manager Eudy Lai said business this year had been "medium" compared with "average" in the past couple of years.

"This year we've definitely been having demand for bigger items, so people are spending a little more money on more expensive things.

"They're mainly getting presents for other people but also for themselves."

Dick Smith's St Lukes manager, who did not want to give his name, said there were more shoppers through the door than last year.

"People are definitely willing to spend a lot more than they usually do this Christmas. I guess people have just been saving more."

The most popular items being bought were e-readers, which retailed for $200 to $300, but computers and televisions had also been enjoying strong sales.

Toyco St Lukes store manager Raymond Eng said three-wheeler micro-scooters had been their most popular toy in a busy few weeks.

Also going like hot cakes was the LeapPad Ultra learning tablet, a durable children's version of the iPad or iPhone.

At $240 on special, Mr Eng said people were prepared to spend the extra on their children this year.

Retail Association chief executive John Albertson said he had received positive feedback from members that they were doing better than during the past few Christmases.

"It's been steadily improving since the doom and gloom years of 2006 through 2009, but for the first time we're seeing positive indicators from consumer confidence surveys, business confidence surveys and I think everything's lining up to be a reasonably good Christmas this year."

The element that seemed to affect spending more than anything else was consumer confidence, he said.

"A really good All Black win can do as much for retail sales as half a point off the mortgage rate.

"It's about state of mind and how people feel."

Mr Albertson said Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday this year could result in people having some extra time for shopping.

Paymark, which processes three-quarters of the country's electronic transactions, said spending over its network during the first week of December was up 8.6 per cent on the same period in 2012.

Santa worth the wait

It seems like everyone was forced to wait over the weekend as the countdown to Christmas continued. There were the usual queues on motorways, in shops - and even waiting for Santa. Some children waited in line for as long as 90 minutes at Santa's Bach, at Wynyard Quarter on Auckland's waterfront, yesterday. One boy, however, was reluctant after handing Santa a handwritten note explaining he had knocked over a mailbox and thought Santa might be mad at him.

- APNZ

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