Easter hot cross bunny arrives early

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Olivia Sullivan
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ
EGGCEPTIONALLY EARLY: Countdown Newtown’s Olivia Sullivan with unseasonal Easter goodies.

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Santa has just departed but the Easter Bunny has already arrived, with the season of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns already in full swing for retailers.

Many Wellington shops and supermarkets started selling hot cross buns on January 3, despite Easter Sunday falling late this year, on April 20.

Easter eggs went on shelves on Boxing Day at The Warehouse in Kilbirnie, although manager Angela McLay said shoppers were only starting to buy them now, in mid-January.

All Countdown supermarkets sold hot cross buns in the first week of January. Kiwis bought 40,000 packets that week, Countdown spokeswoman Jess Miller said.

"People love them. There are always people who say it's too early but they don't have to buy them."

Early Easter retailing began in 2008 when Easter fell unusually early, on March 23, Ms Miller said.

"It ended up being something people really wanted. We just kept doing it."

At Countdown Newtown, several shoppers had commented on the unseasonal eggs and buns, checkout operator Olivia Sullivan said.

"People say Easter has come especially early this year, but then again lots of people are buying eggs and hot cross buns."

At the Tory St Warehouse, discount post-Christmas decorations and candy canes were intentionally kept separate from new Easter stock, manager Andrew Pink said.

Creme eggs were a particular favourite with Warehouse shoppers, who could buy the eggs only in the leadup to Easter, Mr Pink said - though he admitted that leadup would last for a third of 2014.

"There's always an excitement about them, they seem to be one of those products if they were there all year round people wouldn't jump at them."

Easter in January was a simple result of consumer demand, said Retailers' Association chief executive John Albertson.

"It's like selling icecream in winter: someone will buy it."

Pak 'n Save in Porirua was one of the few retailers to keep Easter to its traditional season. Hot cross buns would be on sale next month, but Easter eggs would be available only in April, duty manager David Docherty said.

"They do sell, but it just takes up space where you could be selling a lot more [of something else]."

Following the same theory, Mr Docherty did not sell Christmas foods and decorations until late November, while other shops began as early as August.

Despite restricting Easter buns to nearly Lent, Mr Docherty admitted he craved them out of season. "I still like a hot cross bun any time of the year."

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- The Dominion Post

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