A longer lead-in time to Easter is seeing shoppers devouring chocolate with a passion.
Easter fell in late March last year, and Schoc Chocolates' owner and chocolatier Murray Langham, of Greytown, says this year's later date has given customers more time to prepare - and to spend.
"This year's been better than last year because we've had a longer lead-in to Easter - we've had some really good days," he said. Schoc stockists had been reordering products, which was a further sign of a sales spike.
Among Schoc's stable of sweets are armies of marching bunnies, "fried eggs" featuring a caramel yolk, and what might be the region's most expensive Easter bunny: a hand-painted, 62cm tall, 2.5kg hollow rabbit with a basket on its back, selling for $385.
Langham said he had sold five of the made-to-order bunnies, and there was no single typical buyer. "Usually someone just walks into the shop and says, ‘I'll have that thank you'."
Meanwhile, supermarket chain Countdown predicts it will sell about 10 million hot-cross buns by the time the Easter season is over, with sales already up by 20 per cent on last year.
And a survey by rival chain New World has found Wellingtonians who do their shopping in the central city are the biggest consumers of Cadbury Creme Eggs.
Aucklanders had the sweetest tooth, and bought 17 per cent of all Easter eggs last March - more than any other region.
South Islanders came out on top in hot-cross bun sales.
The Warehouse would not reveal how many eggs it sold last year but its notorious What A Pig hollow chocolate egg - which sells for $30, weighs 1kg and contains 22,400 kilojoules of energy - is still a big seller.
What a Pig eggs have come in for flak in the past. In 2011 public health nutritionist Bronwen King criticised the sale of big eggs as a cash-in and "a bastardisation of Easter".
She said the What a Pig egg had 60 teaspoons of fat and 146 teaspoons of sugar, which was four times the daily fat and three times the daily energy needs of a typical 10-year-old.
- The Dominion Post