Bay of Plenty shoppers have spent close to $300 million in the lead-up to Christmas this year.

Paymark figures released this week show a total of $296.5m was spent from December 1 to 21 this year. The spend was 11.5 per cent up compared to the same dates from last year, one of the most significant increases in the country.

Paymark spokesman Paul Brislen said the Bay's hot and sunny days would have contributed to the big spend up.

"I'd say a lot of what's going on in December is related to the weather. When there's good, fine weather, people tend to do a lot more - think about the garden, think about the house extension, or building the deck," he said.


"That's when you get the big ticket items."

Appliance stores and hardware stores recorded the most significant growth in spending of New Zealand retailers with 32.8 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively.

Brislen said yesterday, was the busiest day of the year with 612,071 transactions recorded between 12pm and 1pm, and as many as 179.6 a second at 12.38pm.

Papamoa Plaza manager David Hill said spending "has just got nuts in Papamoa".

"It really has. Today [Friday] already by 2pm, most tenants had made their normal turnover, and we still have late night shopping to go."

Hill said people were lining up to the gift-wrapping station with trolleys overflowing with goods and the number of wrapped presents was up 20 per cent on last year.

"This is the best time of the year. There is such a positive vibe. This is what we work all year for."

Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford said the mall had extended its hours and hired carpark assistants to manage the demand.


"I know the feedback from some of our larger retailers is that sales are up, some by 13 per cent this month to date," he said.

Ellingford agreed that excellent weather was a factor for the shopping increase. He also believed extended hours helped.

Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming said the Mount shopping area had a mix of shops and dining options, which had been popular for Christmas shoppers.

"I think it does make a difference that we have more people in the Bay of Plenty now that will be a contributing factor. Also, the election is over, things have settled down in the States, and the sun's come out - it's stopped raining," Fleming said.

"There's nothing nicer than to get a bit of Christmas shopping in, sitting down outside and have a good coffee and meet up with a friend or family, it's an enjoyable experience."

Where are people spending?

- Appliance stores +32.8%

- Hardware stores +13.8%

- Toy and game shops +13.8%

- Department stores +13.5%

- Auto parts shops +10.6%

- Fast foods +13.0%

- Cafe/restaurant +8.2%

- Clothes shops -4.0%

- Watch and jewellery retailers -2.9%

- Furniture stores +1.4%