Southlanders spend up large

Last-minute Christmas shoppers in Invercargill kept retailers busy at the weekend.
Last-minute Christmas shoppers in Invercargill kept retailers busy at the weekend.

Invercargill's streets were buzzing with Christmas shoppers yesterday but retailers are expecting a bigger rush for final gifts today.

With most inner-city retailers extending their hours before Christmas, many spoken to yesterday said they were happy with the past few weeks' trade.

They thought spending was at least on a par with last year, if not higher.

Cambridge Place Arcade, Esk St, Dee St, Tay St and Leven St were busy with shoppers carrying bags of clothes, toys, books and stocking stuffers, many making the most of pre-Christmas sales.

Coffee shops were also busy yesterday as shoppers took a break to laze in the sunshine.

Michael Hill manager Sonya Chalmers said some women could expect their partners to propose this year.

"There have been a few diamond rings sold, which will be a nice surprise for the ladies," she said.

Bracelets and pendants were also in high demand.

The weekend had been manic but Christmas Eve was always the busiest day and she expected an influx of people today.

McKnight & Brown owner Bernie Brown said he was very happy with Christmas trading, with shirts, leather goods and designer underwear among the popular gifts.

People had started shopping earlier this year, he said.

Wild Thingz owner Angee Shand, who said it was her 17th Christmas at the store, had opened every day in December.

Spending was good but not as high as when the shop first opened, she said. Her top seller was a sentimental range of goods.

"It's a sign of the tough times. People are buying things with meaning to tell loved ones how they feel," she said.

Moonshine manager Angela Hassed said there had been a steady flow of people through the store, mostly men with children searching for a gift for their partners.

They had bought charm bracelets, greenstone and silver bangles.

Most had been told by their other half what to buy, while some needed a little help, she said.

R J Models and Toys owner Robyn Smart said the store had been busy during the past few weeks but today would be hectic.

Scooters, toy cars and remote-controlled cars were the biggest sellers.

While most last-minute shoppers were picking up a final gift for a family member, there were a few who had only just started to tick off their Christmas list.

Sam Hayston and Sam Stewart took advantage of the good weather to finish shopping for their parents, while shoppers Debra Russell and Marianne Foster made the most of a day off from work before Christmas to organise decorations and gifts.

Wally Kalweit, of Mossburn, was buying gifts for his nieces and nephews and was still on the lookout for a gift for his partner, while Greg Fordyce, of Invercargill, made sure he got the right gift for his wife, Debbie, by bringing her along.

Nickki Miller had finished gift shopping and was strolling around town in the sunshine with her partner, browsing for 2013 calendars.

The Southland Times