Christmas has started early for some Tauranga retailers with increased foot traffic in Bayfair and the CBD.

But others say spending is slow and will surge only in the last two weeks before Christmas.

With 25 shopping days to go, shops are reporting mixed starts to the season - with one store saying its online store is outstripping its shop.

Steve Ellingford, Bayfair Shopping Centre manager, said November had followed the trend of the previous seven months of customer growth at an average of 11 per cent each month compared to last year.


More shoppers have also translated into more sales - and Mr Ellingford was anticipating a positive December in what was typically a strong month.

"Full centre sales over the last three months [August to October] has averaged a per month growth of 6.6 per cent, which we feel is exceptional and consistent with the continued growth of our region.

"We have seen very strong specialty sales over this period and are pleased with this trend as we head into the two busiest months of the year - December and January - for our retailers.

"The outlook for the next few months is very positive."

Mainstreet Tauranga spokeswoman Sally Cooke said there was a "positive air" in the city centre, and more people around.

November was too early to rate Christmas shopping - with more people leaving it to the last two weeks to shop in recent years, she said.

Retail is still a really challenging environment, she added.

New initiatives such as a shuttle bus bringing cruise ship passengers into the CBD had been well received, she said.

Bernadette Rowlands of clothing store High Street said Christmas started early and there had been good sales since she moved store locations in late October.

"We have found the economy has flipped. I think there's more people around, more activity in the street."

Tauranga Arts Festival had also supported sales, as people were looking for new clothes to wear, and that was continuing into the Christmas season, she said.

But Glenn Tuck, who owns Broncos Outdoors, had not yet seen Christmas shopping start in a big way. "Since the recession, Christmas comes later and later.

"It will come, it always does come, but instead of happening from September it's the last fortnight before Christmas."

Online shopping is likely impacting on traditional stores - the Broncos website was starting to pick up faster than in-store, Mr Tuck said.

Mount Mainstreet manager Leanne Brown expected sales to improve from tomorrow when people "psychologically start thinking about Christmas shopping".

Although Mount Maunganui will today hold its Christmas parade, Ms Brown said sales often declined on event days as people were not there to shop.

The weather was a "catch 22" for Mount Maunganui retailers - fine weather brought people to the area but sometimes they stayed at the beach rather than the shops. Overcast days were often busier for shopping.

Mount Maunganui retailer Charlie Robertson, of Robertson's Menswear, said Christmas retailing had changed in the past five years.

Huge sales before and after Christmas, coupled with some families opting to buy only one present each in a Kris Kringle arrangement, had reduced the impact of Christmas spending.

"Christmas is not what it was 10 years ago when people traditionally went and bought a lot of presents.

"I don't hold my breath to be honest. We do still see the traditional stuff where they will buy a shirt for their husband or father."

But this month's hot and sunny weather had been good for business.

"The last few weekends with the warm weather has certainly been better - they are getting more prepared for summer, buying the shorts because it's been a warm November," Mr Robertson said.

"That is what I look forward to rather than Christmas, particularly in our game - men buy when they need something."