Kiwi retailers are bracing for their busiest days of the year as last-minute Christmas shoppers spend on gifts.
Demand for NZ Post services has surged in the last month with millions of parcels sent around the country, "breaking all records".
With just five shopping days left till Christmas, the nation's retail stores are banking on a financial bonanza. Kiwis spent $282.4 million on last year's peak shopping day on December 21.
Paymark spokesman Paul Brislen said the peak was usually on Christmas Eve, but it depended on which day Christmas fell. This year with Christmas on the Tuesday retailers were expecting the weekend to be the busiest period.
Brislen said spending had picked up in the second week of December after a sluggish start to the month following Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales at the end of November.
"However, from the middle of December we're seeing retail spending pick back up and expect to see strong figures through to the peak, the weekend before Christmas Day."
Spending through Paymark non-fuel merchants in the second week of December jumped 6 per cent on the first week to $1.271 billion. This was up nearly 3 per cent on the same period last year.
A NZ Post spokeswoman said this year was breaking all records with parcels sent from October 22 up 30 per cent on last year. To cope with the increase NZ Post had put on 600 extra people, 200 more vans and added another airplane to the fleet.
DHL Express NZ experienced its biggest delivery day for the year on Tuesday, and was predicting a 7 per cent increase on December last year.
A spokesman said the e-commerce sector had experienced significant recent growth and change in consumer patterns, with 36 per cent of Kiwi businesses generating up to 20 per cent of their orders online, and 16 per cent generating 90 to 100 per cent of orders online.
The latest consumer confidence survey also showed a greater willingness among people to make "big ticket" purchases, with a net 27.3 per cent of people surveyed saying now was a good time to buy, compared to 20.4 per cent in September.
Retail NZ general manager Greg Harford said overall they were noticing a relatively slow start to the Christmas period, and customers were after more value and good deals.
"It could be the squeezed household budget, pressures from increases in rates, petrol taxes and insurance costs."
Harford said to counter that retailers would likely pull the start of Boxing Day sales forward.
The most common items being purchased this season were technology goods, food and alcohol.
The Warehouse spokeswoman Sarah Leaning said sales had picked up this week with people buying last-minute gifts.
Some of the most popular toys had been Hot Wheels cars, Bunch O Balloons, Scruff a Luvs, Rainbocorns and LOL Dolls.
Westfields St Lukes Shopping Centre was all hustle and bustle yesterday with Christmas shoppers trying to get in their last-minute purchases.
Adele Tonks, trolley full to the brim, was trying to get all the Christmas shopping done for her five children, aged 7 to 23, in one go.
While she usually did her shopping online, this year she hadn't had time.
"That's where the mall is good, convenient, everything is there. I do like to be able to see things before I buy too."
Rochelle Cook was bravely doing some Christmas shopping with her four children, aged between 8 and 13. This round they were buying clothes and shoes.
"They are getting too old for us to choose for them."
While Cook said she too did a lot of shopping online, she liked the convenience of the mall and to be able to see and try on clothes.
Amazon surf and skate store manager Harvey Godwin said they had been getting busier every day this week.
"The top sellers had been boardshorts and swimwear, pretty typical for this time of year."
At Noel Leeming they had been seeing more than 1000 customers a day.
Manager Rajneel Prasad said their top-selling items had been headphones and portable speakers.
"With hopefully a nice summer ahead we are selling lots of speakers for people to be able to listen to music outside."
T2 Tea was seeing the perks of Secret Santa with their reasonably-priced tea gift packs, assistant manager Fin Murray said.
At MacPac lots of customers were getting into the new activewear range and of course, the backpacks, manager TJ Singh said.
Funnily enough though their best-seller was a down jacket they had on sale for $100.
Christmas by the numbers:
• Parcels a' sending - NZ Post said parcels were being sent at record levels up 30 per cent on last year since October 21. DHL had its busiest of the year on Tuesday and was predicting a seven per cent jump on December last year.
• Spending - Paymark figures in the second week of December jumped six per cent on the first week to $1.271 billion. This was up nearly 3 per cent on the same period last year.
• Peak day - Last year's peak Christmas spending was $282.4 million on December 21. What will it be this year?
• Buy online - 16 per cent of Kiwi businesses are generating 90 to 100 per cent of orders online.
• Consumer confidence - The latest survey showed a greater willingness among people to make "big ticket" purchases, with a net 27.3 percent of people surveyed saying now was a good time to buy, compared to 20.4 percent in September.
Tips for last-minute Christmas shopping:
• Skip the stores - buy gifts online, but check to make sure you can get it delivered in time.
• Re-gift - Don't feel bad about passing on gifts you've already been given; if you never use it maybe someone else will.
• Shop on your own - Flying solo means you are able to go only where you need to instead of following someone else around.
• Get a gift card - They're a good alternative when you don't know what to buy someone.
• Take a breather - Remember to catch your breath and refocus - the holidays are about being together not finding the perfect gift.