Shopkeepers are bracing themselves as last-minute Christmas shoppers head to the stores on one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Extra staff are on duty in shopping centres around the country to handle the mass of stressed-out shoppers.

But malls are warning those who plan to head to the stores today to keep track of what time they close - which is earlier than most days of the festive shopping season.

A spokeswoman for Sylvia Park in Mt Wellington said the shopping centre was packed on Saturday but she was expecting it to be even busier today. "That's usually the way it is."


So far everyone seemed relatively calm and well behaved. However, there had been a few tense people buying gift cards.

"They're a good gift to get anyone and they have less pressure to get something perfect," she said.

Paymark - which handles more than two-thirds of the country's electronic payment transactions - had just over $3.2 billion through its network between November 30 and December 20, $148.7 million more than for the same period last year.

Chief executive Simon Tong said the results should be welcome news for retailers.

On Thursday, Paymark broke through four million transactions in one day for only the sixth time in its history.

One chain store is using Christmas Eve to start its Boxing Day sale and is giving shoppers a way of avoiding the sales madness.

Dick Smith will launch discounts online from 6 o'clock this evening. Customers will have unrestricted access to all sale items online, ahead of those that will be available in stores on Wednesday.