Regional shopping malls are just as busy as those in the main centres as Kiwis flock to the shops to get their last-minute Christmas shopping underway.

Emma Smith, shopping centre asset manager for AMP Capital New Zealand, said the company's shopping malls - Bayfair in Tauranga, Centre City in New Plymouth, The Palms and Merivale in Christchurch and Botany Town Centre in Auckland - were "at capacity" today, following a bumper day of sales, and visitors, yesterday.

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"The malls have been really busy all week - Thursday was a really hectic day and again yesterday," Smith told the Herald.


"Despite a lot of people leaving town today and yesterday over the weekend, the malls are really, really busy still. People seem to be taking advantage of the gift wrapping in the centres, and we've got lots of other staff out in carparks directing traffic - everybody certainly seems to be doing that last-minute shop."

Department and electronic stores were trading "very well" today, along with the supermarkets which were "very, very busy" as many people had completed their gift shopping and were now moving to stock up on food essentials ahead of Christmas.

It was hard to tell whether yesterday or today was the busier day, she said.

"Yesterday was certainly very impressive - the numbers that came through, and we'd expect the same today, and some more tomorrow."

"Multiple tens of thousands" of people have been through Westfield mall this week. Photo / Supplied

Smith said she wanted to remind shoppers to "remain patient" and enjoy the busy festive shopping season.

Perhaps the country's busiest shopping mall today, Westfield Newmarket, located in Auckland, was also at capacity, along with Scentre Group's other three Westfield malls in Auckland - St Lukes, Albany, Newmarket and Manukau, and Riccarton in Christchurch.

Paul Gardner, regional manager for Scentre Group, has visited each of the ASX-listed mall operator's New Zealand centres this week. He says all have had "multiple tens of thousands of people" through its doors.

Today he is based in Westfield Newmarket, and he said it was still "very, very busy" but he had noticed a change in shopper sentiment, with a lot of shoppers now focused on the food shop at supermarkets.


He said today was also a booming day for beauty retailers as shoppers were increasingly getting manicures or treatments ahead of Christmas next week.

"People seem to be in the zone of fresh food purchases, starting from today. Supermarkets are having a really busy day," Gardner said. "There's a sense at the moment of panic of last-minute shopping for consumers, but everybody does seem to be in good spirits.

Paul Gardner, Scentre Group regional manager. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Paul Gardner, Scentre Group regional manager. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"People are doing big trolley shops, they are starting now to stock up, so it maybe that some of that spend is starting to transition out of [mainly] presents to fresh foods."

Gardner said hairdressing, nail and beauty salons, and restaurants, were also extremely busy today. "Lots of people are here having lunch, lots people on the rooftop and enjoying the atmosphere and having last-minute beauty treatments."

About 40 "ambassadors" were at work at Westfield Newmarket today, responsible for helping people in the centre. The mall usually has around 25 at work at one time, but has deployed additional hands and carpark staff to manage crowds, Gardner said.

Thousands of shoppers are doing their last-minute shopping. Photo / NZME
Thousands of shoppers are doing their last-minute shopping. Photo / NZME

Westfield's prediction is that the busiest Christmas shopping day would be Saturday at noon, while Kiwi Property, which operates the country's largest shopping mall, Sylvia Park, has predicted Sunday at noon.

Sylvia Park expects 1.8 million Eftpos transactions will take place in its centre over the Christmas trading period, with an expected 44,000 expected to take place today.

Helen Ronald, manager for the 71,0000sq m Auckland shopping centre, says first thing in the morning, around 4pm or additionally at 8pm are the best times to hit the shops for a stress-free last-minute Christmas shop.

Smith agreed that first thing in the morning or towards the end of the day were the best times to visit centres for a quieter shopping experience at this time of the year.