Last-minute Christmas shoppers fill the tills

Retailers are having themselves a merry little Christmas as thousands of last-minute shoppers fill stores across Otago.

''It's been very busy ... it's fantastic,'' Rebecca Portsmouth, store manager at The Warehouse in Frankton, said yesterday.

''It's been steadily building, but we've had queues outside the door most days.''

Larger retailers across the province reported lines outside stores before Saturday morning opening hours, while extended late-night shopping hours had also proved popular.

For the past fortnight, The Warehouse had been staying open until midnight, with a ''surprising'' number of people choosing to do their Christmas shopping late at night.

''We're doing a couple of grand between 11pm and midnight,'' she said.

Dunedin Farmers store manager Shelly Gilchrist said extending store hours until midnight for several days last week had proved popular, particularly with families and even the odd Christmas party-goer.

''There has been plenty of last-minute shoppers for us.''

Christmas Eve was likely to be a steady day for the business, ''but at 6pm when we close we are likely to have people asking us why we aren't open to midnight'', she said.

Keith Gillies, of Milton's Chapel Gardens, said their stall at Dunedin's Stadium Market had its best day of trading since the opening market day.

''It has been very pleasing,'' he said.

Cromwell Paper Plus manager Aimee Paardekooper said the shop had been ''really busy'' with people ''really excited about Christmas'' buying gifts such as toys, as well as books.

She said trading over the month of December was on a par with last year, ''if not slightly up''.

Alexandra New World owner Kevin Ryan said yesterday was ''shaping up to be the third busiest day of the year''.

He said it was ''definitely'' busier than last year in the lead-up to Christmas and put that down to which day the holiday fell on, saying because it was on Tuesday, many people had taken the Monday off work and headed to Central Otago on holiday earlier than they did last year.

In Queenstown, gift store In The Pink reported one of the busiest build-ups to Christmas in its 10-year history.

Owner Victoria Lund said staff at the store had been rushed off their feet, and ''it's better than every previous year''.



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