Cash registers play Jingle Bells

PRESENT TIME: Riley Taylor, 7, of New Plymouth deciding on a Christmas present for his siblings.
PRESENT TIME: Riley Taylor, 7, of New Plymouth deciding on a Christmas present for his siblings.

Cash registers jingled as Taranaki residents hit the shops yesterday for a spot of last-minute Christmas shopping.

Figures released by Paymark revealed another solid week with national spending up 6.9 per cent year-on-year for the first three weeks of December.

Taranaki recorded spending of $80.8 million compared to the $76.7 million that went through its tills last year.

Bookshop manager Ruth Smolenski of Poppies New Plymouth said there was definitely a last-minute Christmas rush as people zipped in for presents.

Ms Smolenski said The Luminaries by Kiwi author Eleanor Catton were among its best selling items.

She said the book sales showed there were still "real book lovers in the world".

Surfwear shop North Beach manager Kim Avery believed close to 1000 people had stepped through their doors yesterday , with more customers expected for today .

Men's shirts, travel kits and novelty gifts were the most popular items purchased.

Owner Mark Thomas of Vinyl Countdown went the extra mile for his customers when he drove to Hamilton on Sunday night to pick up 11 boxes of stock yet to be couriered down.

"You promise people it'll be here in another two days and it's not, another two days and it's not," he said.

"There's heaps of Christmas presents.

"You don't want to let people down."

Mr Thomas said turntables, LPs and CDs were great gifts for family and friends and most of items were ordered from the US.

"More young people seem to be buying turntables and LPs which is great. People still like to have something they can put on a shelf and hold, something that's tangible," he said.

The seven-hour trip had not been entirely unpleasant. "One of my frequent customers came with me. We made a road trip out of it," Mr Thomas said.

Mr Thomas' shop was "flat out" with customers in the past three days.

New Plymouth resident Vicki Honeyfield made four trips into town with each of her children to buy presents.

Ms Honeyfield said the idea was to allow each child two hours in town browsing shops for gifts for family members.

When the Taranaki Daily News caught up with her around 4pm yesterday at The Warehouse, Ms Honeyfield said she had been out since 9am and was on her last run with her youngest child, Riley Taylor, to pick out toys for his sisters.

Ms Honeyfield was unfazed with the last minute rush. "I have been organised," she said. "We're doing our Christmas food shopping tonight."

Fellow shopper Mikala Linton , also of New Plymouth, had been out since 10am and said she was "pretty much" done with her shopping.

South Taranaki businesses were also abuzz with shoppers.

Hawera Paper Plus co-owner Dallas McCallum said they had been hit by "crazy waves" of shoppers hunting a last-minute bargain.

"I thought we had hit our peak on Thursday," he said.

Mr McCallum said it was great to see some many people out and about in town.

Stratford's Cottage Lane was also doing a roaring trade.

Co-owner Helen Sibbick said they had been run off their feet and there were plenty of people doing the frantic last-minute shop.

"It's been much better than last year."

Sergeant Stephen Richardson said Taranaki motorists had been well-behaved.

Police will be taking a firm line on motorists exceeding speed limits and they would also be conducting random checks at check points, Mr Richardson said.

"To drive safely is everyone's responsibility," he said.

Motorists travelling long distances are urged to take a break when they are tired.

"We wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas," Mr Richardson said.

Taranaki Daily News