'Grab and go' as gift buyers hit panic mode

The booming Christmas shopping season has shown no sign of slacking, even as many people start their holidays.

Paymark figures show seasonal spending started early this year - Kirkcaldie & Stains managing director John Milford said many people started buying their first gifts in November.

As a result, department store staff were expecting a quieter time yesterday, he said.

"It's surprisingly busy today . . . You've got people at lunchtime who are still working, running out for the last-minute gifts, as well as lots of families around."

Customers were snapping up perfume and small gifts, in particular. "People have bought their main gifts, so they're buying top-ups or people they've suddenly remembered."

The Kirkcaldie online store was also getting a lot of traffic yesterday, with people asking if deliveries could make it in time. "We're trying our best, but I have to say, they've left it a bit late."

Just Men gift store owner Tasos Panagiotelis was gearing up for the busiest day of his year today.

"In the last two days, very few people ask for advice or help, they just grab.

"They might come in and say, ‘I saw something two weeks ago, do you still have it?', but it's mainly grab and go."

Mr Panagiotelis said, overall, the holiday retail season had exceeded expectations, though still low on previous years.

Two last-minute shoppers out on Lambton Quay yesterday were Victoria University students Alejandra Zambrano and Alfonse Mahinay.

The couple, who admitted they tended to be unorganised about Christmas gifts, were out buying the bulk of their presents for their family.

In a few hours of concentrated shopping, they had managed to pick up most of what they needed, Ms Zambrano said.

The pair had expected the stores to be a nightmare, but were pleasantly surprised.

"They are busy, but we left it to the last minute, so we can't really complain."

The Dominion Post