Shoppers in the Bay are opening their wallets despite the impacts of Covid-19 and have spent a record $67 million in the first week of December.
Retailers are also expecting a flurry of activity in the final lead-up to Christmas which should ease the ''pain'' of 2020 while some report it's likely to be busier than last year.
New figures from Paymark show $67.7m worth of electronic transactions were completed in the Bay of Plenty from December 1 ending on December 8 - an increase of 7.4 per cent on the same time last year.
More money was being spent on food and liquor and at restaurants, bars and cafes while it had declined at certain shops like furniture, clothing and appliances stores.
''This is typical in the lead-up to Christmas,'' Paymark said in a statement.
Tauranga Crossing centre manager Andrew Wadsworth said following a tough year with many challenges, its retailers were positive and enjoying strong demand this Christmas.
Trends formed in lockdown, such as exercise equipment and technology items, are still in hot demand, he said.
These included bikes, stand-up paddleboards, and the latest tech releases such as PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.
Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford said sales had been robust since coming out of lockdown.
''November was an extremely positive month and December, based on the level of customer visitations in the first two weeks this trend is continuing.''
Rotorua Central Mall manager Peter Faulkner said 2020 had been ''a challenging year for us all, and retailers in particular''.
''A strong Christmas trading period will assist in easing some of the pain from the start of the year and will provide confidence leading into 2021.
''We don't have the foot traffic counts to hand yet, but judging from the carpark numbers and the number in the mall, the feeling is that we are as busy as we were this time last year.''
According to feedback from Rotorua Central Mall and Trade Central, retailers' sales were holding up very well, he said.
Papamoa Plaza centre manager David Hill said its November figures reveal it was tracking, depending on the category, 8 to 10 per cent ahead of last year.
''It's just going nuts, it really is.''
Some retailers had experienced a shortage of stock but that had not deterred shoppers.
"Foot traffic is slightly ahead of last year and turnover is divinely up. ''
Hill said the plaza could be in for the best Christmas ever.
Ajays Emporium owner Ange Bunn said its Tauranga and Rotorua stores were ''crazy busy''.
''We are well up on last year. It's just mental and it's great to see people shopping local which is really positive.''
Christmas items were still hugely popular although stock across the stores was flying off the shelves, she said.
Rotorua Economic Development Investment, Growth & Intelligence manager Rebecca Wright said any spend at this time of the year always delivered an important boost for the Rotorua economy.
''We hosted a group of inner-city representatives in our offices last week when we launched a new inner-city business activation programme called Takiwā Champions, focusing on creating a vibrant CBD.
"The overwhelming feedback from the group was that the retail sector is experiencing the usual Christmas rush, providing a much-needed confidence boost to end the year.''
''In particular, businesses that invested in improving their websites and other digital assets during lockdown are reaping the benefits as customers are able to seek them out and research their products online, while also enjoying the face to face shopping experience once again.''
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said consumer spending had bounced back quite positively since lockdown ended.
''This is very pleasing, and feedback we're getting from the business community is that businesses are trading well.
"The strength in consumer spend is probably down to a couple of factors; people are feeling relatively secure in their employment, and people staying in the region rather than holidaying overseas.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce engagement co-ordinator Anne Pankhurst said it had received anecdotal feedback that business was up for this time of year.
''We are also hearing that local camping grounds are full, which would indicate that we are definitely buying local and seeing our own country. That can only be a great thing for our local tourism operators and the wider hospitality sector.''
''We are noticing a growing confidence in the economy – albeit tinged with some caution.
''It would indicate that we have all learnt to operate in the new environment, and we can safely say no one wants to return to any form of lockdown. It bodes well for the New Year.''