Retailers smile as wallets open wide
Last year New Plymouth retailers were reporting bumper pre-Christmas sales. Taranaki Daily News reporter John Anthony braved the Christmas crowds to see how this year was stacking up.
New Plymouth retailers say shoppers have not been shy in opening up their wallets this Christmas - and figures released last week back that up.
With their favourite time of year in full swing, all retailers the Taranaki Daily News spoke to were in high spirits.
Because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, many people had a three-day weekend leading up to the big day, allowing for a huge last-minute Christmas shopping spree.
Taranaki eftpos figures for December had already shown people spending more than last year. Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, had just over $3.2 billion through its network between November 30 and December 20 - $148.7 million more than the same period last year.
For the Taranaki/Taupo region, eftpos transactions increased by $2.1m to $74.8m this year - an increase of $2.1m.
Despite this 2.8 per cent increase, the Taranaki/Taupo region was below the total national value increase of 4.7 per cent.
Five New Plymouth retailers the Daily News spoke to last Christmas were all feeling the cheer this year as well.
New Plymouth Michael Hill Jeweller store manager Bronwyn Bradshaw said great staff and a lively atmosphere was helping keep customers happy this year.
"It's just about atmosphere, when people come shopping it's important to help them have fun." Michael Hill was in the fortunate position that jewellery was always a popular gift for Christmas, she said. "We're lucky we're in the industry where men like to spoil their ladies."
North Beach store manager Brooke Moeller said a lot of its customers had been very organised in their Christmas shopping this year.
The store, which employed 18 staff during the Christmas period, had a range of Christmas sales on.
Popular gifts this year included watches and sunglasses. Lots of vouchers were being sold this year as well, she said.
Centre City was also selling plenty of gift cards, with figures up on last year's, marketing manager Jo Stephenson said.
It was estimated foot traffic had increased by about 5 per cent despite ongoing renovations, she said. "It's booming at the moment, well and truly booming."
Sales figures wouldn't be in until early next month when Centre City's 57 shops submit their monthly results, she said.
Centre City Christmas present wrapper Nicole Berry said books, clothing and perfume were the most common gifts she was wrapping. The average shopper was getting about five presents wrapped at a time, she said.
"One lady did about 30."
Dick Smith store manager Dan Bowman said while the Christmas rush was a bit late this year, sales were still ticking over.
Popular items on wish lists this year included electronic reader the Kindle, remote-controlled helicopters and computer tablets.
Music Works manager Foley Moors said this was his first Christmas with Music Works and so far trading had been strong.
Plenty of guitars and ukuleles had been sold, and wind instruments were also proving popular.
"We would hope to clear most of our guitars and ukuleles we've brought in over the Christmas period," Mr Moors said.
Musical instruments were a popular Christmas gift, with many parents replacing their kids' instruments in the hope they would progress with them, he said.
The Fridge Butchery & Delicatessen owner Mark Wormald said the buildup to Christmas had been flat out. ‘It's pretty manic with hams and bacon and sausages," Mr Wormald said.
His efforts won the best sausage honour at Puke Ariki's "battle of the butchers" the previous weekend and it had been a boost in business. "It's made people aware that we're here and what sort of things we do."
Shoppers also flocked to The Valley in New Plymouth at the weekend to snap up Christmas bargains.
Taranaki Daily News