What we're buying this Christmas
When it comes to choosing gifts for their kids, Marlborough parents seem to be thinking not just about how much fun a toy is but also what benefits it may have.
Educational toys are proving popular this year, say retailers, with Farmers in Blenheim reporting high sales of children's tablets like the LeapPad and Innotab. Farmers childrens, homeware and nursery and department manager Simon Amos said the child-friendly tablets were packed with educational games and applications for them could be downloaded off the internet via a home computer.
"They are actually very well priced, which is helping sales. They are great educational toys and also teach kids about computers and using touch screen technology," he said.
"There has been a good mix of toys being bought, but the kids ‘iPads' are selling very well. Toys for kids aged under seven or eight sell the best."
He added that trading had been busy leading up to the week before Christmas but expected that there would be the usual rush in the last few days before December 25.
The Warehouse in Blenheim referred queries to its head office which listed toys such as Lego, Cabbage Patch Kids and the LeapPad among their top 10 selling toys nationally.
Bookworld in Blenheim said children's books, both educational and fictional, had sold well this year. "Most of the kids' books being sold are for about three to eight year olds," said co-owner Peter Scott.
"Parents that come in say that they want to buy something that will last and won't just be a pile of plastic in a few months, but will be something the kids can use over and over." The store had also been doing a brisk trade leading up to Christmas, with expectations of a last minute rush.
Bicycles have never gone out of fashion with two of Blenheim's bicycle specialist stores, Avantiplus and Cycle World saying sales of children's bikes, from those needing training wheels and up, were good so far.
"We have actually seen kid's bike sales up quite a bit from last year," said Cycle World co-owner, Ray Dunstan.
"Things are more positive around town this year and people seem to have more to spend." Parents were spending between $200 and $400 on bikes, said Mr Dunstan, who added that scooter sales were not as popular as last Christmas, with bikes being the preferred choice.
Avantiplus owner Bill Mitchell said they too had sold a good number of bicycles for young kids. "It's a gift that gets kids outside, they can use it for transport and is something that can last a lot longer than other toys," said Mr Mitchell.
Christmas list features food, the beach and family time
Perfume, books, gift vouchers, food, time with family and beach holidays are top on the list for Christmas presents for parents and grandparents in Marlborough this year.
Despite protests of "we don't need anything", most people over 60 spoken to by the Marlborough Express admitted a good book was always appreciated, and edible gifts such as homemade jam and chutney or a Christmas cake would never go to waste.
Pat Brand, of Blenheim, said her family would not be exchanging gifts this year because spending time together in Christchurch would be enough of a present.
However, she could not resist getting into the spirit of giving.
"I have put together a little bag of goodies to hand out, though, and I might add more," she said.
Peter Voss, of Blenheim, said he did not need anything although three or four days on a sunny beach in Kaiteriteri with his wife would be just the ticket.
"Or maybe a sun umbrella to take to the beach."
Pat and Barry Akerblom also said they did not need anything, although they quite liked karaoke DVDs for a sing-a-long after some eggnog on Christmas Day.
"If I want something, I get it myself, no matter what time of the year it is," Mrs Akerblom said.
Kitchenware and ornaments were strictly off-limits, she said.
Clare Watchman, of Blenheim, said the trick of finding out what to buy someone was to watch for clues.
"People give out clues all year long about what they are into," she said.
"I give out lots of clues and listen for clues and find present shopping very easy."
The Marlborough Express