Pre-Christmas spending is up nearly 8 per cent in Canterbury, making it the region with the third highest December growth compared with last year.
Cantabrians spent $414.4 million between December 1 and 21 - 7.6 per cent more than the $385m spent last year, figures released yesterday show.
Palmerston North sales rose the most, with a 9 per cent growth, followed by Marlborough with an 8.7 per cent increase.
The national spending was up 6.9 per cent, with a tally of $3.6 billion for the first three weeks of December.
City councillor and businessman Paul Lonsdale said a "buoyancy" in Christchurch made people "splash out more".
Westfield Riccarton centre manager Helen Ronald said the mall had been busy through the Christmas season, right up until its extended 10pm closing.
"Christmas is a busy time. It's a great time to be in retail," she said.
Ballantynes chief executive Maria O'Halloran was "absolutely pleased" with pre-Christmas trades.
The department store offered a traditional experience with Santa's grotto, festive window displays and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in residence.
The nearby Re:Start Mall and cruise ship passengers disembarking in large numbers from buses coming from Akaroa had increased sales among tourists, she said.
Paymark head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, said high tourist numbers had shown through in the figures, along with a more than 10 per cent increase in construction sales.
The biggest increase was an 11.9 per cent growth in spending on accommodation, followed by a more than 10 per cent growth on food takeaways, restaurants and bars.
"Conversely, internet spending may be impacting some sectors, such as clothing retailers and book shops, which are showing low growth or falling sales," he said.
Automotive sales also decreased 7 per cent.
Thomas Koko, who said he found the commercialism of Christmas "a bit much", was at Westfield Riccarton yesterday shopping for his wife.
"I thought I would get in reasonably early this morning, but it was still pretty hard to get a park," he said.
Grant Andrew, from Timaru, was cramming in his final shop despite having bought most of his gifts on his honeymoon in the United States.
The Riccarton crowds did not bother him since "we've been to New York, so nothing is frantic to us any more," he said.
The Press spotted Graham Cole and his son, Daniel, 15, resting their legs while waiting for his daughters on a seat while shoppers whizzed around them.
"I did get a text to say they won't be far away," he said.
$414.4 million spent in Canterbury from December 1-21
7.6 per cent growth on last year
$3.6 billion spent nationwide
6.9 per cent growth nationwide
$235.6m spent nationwide on the busiest day of the year on December 20.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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