Rotorua retailers are bracing for Boxing Day to be the biggest spending day of the year as Christmas shopper numbers have already exceeded last year's figures and expectations.
Business owners were reporting being busier than ever and noticed a spike in demand for Māori art, books, clothing, and food, with people being more personal about their gifts this year.
Meanwhile, a new survey found four out of five shoppers planned to spend more than usual this year as Paymark's latest figures showed a record $67.7 million was spent in the Bay of Plenty in the first week of December alone.
Rotorua Central Mall general manager Peter Faulkner said the volume of shoppers had exceeded his expectations and the mall had been busier than he predicted.
"It's busier than I anticipated given the rush we had with Black Friday," he said.
Compared to previous years, he said the mall was on par, if not busier, and he was expecting Boxing Day to prove people were not "shopped out".
"I think they [retail staff] are getting to the stage where they'll collapse over the finish line."
Designer and Ahu Boutique owner Adrienne Whitewood said she was twice as busy compared to last Christmas and people were more thoughtful around their gift-buying.
"They're spending a lot more time in store, thinking about their purchases," she said.
Whitewood said online shopping demand had also been through the roof, which was exasperated by now having two websites.
People were increasingly getting behind boutique Māori businesses and ideas, she said, and this showed in the response they got through their recent launch of Kōkō chocolate bars.
They were preparing for today to be even busier, going off the fact that Boxing Day was their busiest day last year.
McLeods Booksellers manager Jemma Morrison said they had "huge support" this Christmas, with sales the best they had been in several years as people continued to shop local post lockdown.
Māori books, jigsaw puzzles, interactive journals, and a fountain pen range proved to be especially popular this Christmas, she said.
"We are selling a large amount of Māori books, particularly with the newly published books which are part of the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka initiative to translate 100 popular fiction titles into Māori."
Puzzles sold out every time they were in store and there had been a surge in Cleod Crate - a book subscription service which includes a surprise book and gifts.
Morrison said they noticed a renewed interest in reading and creative activities after lockdown which was reflected in the high-volume sales of craft-based books; from knitting and natural dyeing to woodwork, home curing, and cheesemaking.
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said Rotorua and Tauranga's Christmas spending was set to be up on last year, with December spending anecdotally being strong across the region.
Harford said Black Friday spending was substantial across the regions and most retailers reported good sales in the lead up to Christmas, with official numbers not out until the end of the month.
However, he said stores focused primarily on serving international visitors were finding it tough at the moment and many were trying to reposition their businesses.
A new survey of 1300-plus Kiwis from AMP Capital, which owns Bayfair Shopping Centre in Tauranga, found shoppers planned to spend more this season on food and drink, and celebrations.
Of those surveyed, four out of five people were either looking forward to Christmas more or much more, than last year, with the time of year being more than usual about connection, memories, joy and excitement.
It found 22 per cent of people planned to spend more than usual on food and drink and 14 per cent would spend more than usual on Christmas experiences.
A total 12 per cent planned to spend more than usual on gifts and clothes, and 7 per cent anticipated spending more on decorations.