Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Be warned, Christmas 'nuttiness' coming to town

Hamilton's Centre Place will be open from 9am to 9pm. Photo / Christine Cornege
Hamilton's Centre Place will be open from 9am to 9pm. Photo / Christine Cornege

If you hate crowds of frantic Christmas shoppers, it is probably a good idea to get down to the stores sooner rather than later.

Hamilton Central Business Association chairman Greg Wills said there had been a steady stream of shoppers in the lead up to December 25, but they were expecting many more as Christmas drew nearer.

"I don't think it's been a mad rush yet, but it's certainly been steady numbers coming through Centre Place here at the moment.

"But there's still a few schools that haven't broken up yet ... so I'd imagine later this week we'll start to see the nuttiness, if you like, of Christmas shopping starting to come through," he said.

Mr Wills said the later people left their shopping, the crazier the shops would be.

"So if people are trying to avoid the madness, definitely get the shopping done in the earlier part of this week, rather than later in the week," he said.

From today through to Christmas Eve, Centre Place will keep its doors open from 9am to 9pm, so there are still five full shopping days left.

The amount of shopper traffic the mall had seen was normal for this time of year and Mr Wills said it was about on par with last year.

"It's probably what we've been expecting and in terms of comparing it, it's probably about the same as last year."

The most popular shops were the electronics store Dick Smith, sports chain Rebel Sport and many of the women's fashion houses, Mr Wills said.

But while shoppers were usually a little tense and frantic this close to Christmas, everyone had so far behaved themselves.

Mr Wills said there had been very few reports of shoplifting, trespass notices issued or aggressive behaviour.

In the first two weeks of December, shoppers in the Waikato region spent $144.6 million through tills using the Paymark electronic payment system, which was a 4.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.

But figures from the company which controls 75 per cent of eftpos transactions showed spending in the Waikato region was 0.1 per cent below that of the national average.

The biggest increase was shown in the tyre industry which had a 12.4 per cent jump in sales, which could be put down to people planning a getaway over the holiday period.

Sports goods stores were also up, with a 7.3 per cent increase, electrical appliances sales had increased by 6.1 per cent and beauty purchases were up by 4.4 per cent.

The latest figures from Paymark showed shoppers across New Zealand spent $173 million on Saturday - up from $155 million on the previous Saturday.

Nationally, spending in the first half of December was up by 4.4 per cent on the same period last year, to almost $2 billion.

- NZ Herald

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