Shopping event for Christmas

Oamaru shoppers are promised "an immense shopping experience" on Saturday, December 15, when a Shop Local Market Day is held to draw Christmas trade into the town.

Retailers will have stalls on the footpath and there will be live music to entertain shoppers.

Tourism Waitaki events development officer Jan Kennedy said the event was organised to support retailers. She urged shoppers to help the town's economy by buying local for Christmas.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said shops in North Otago and the rest of the region would be relying on a good Christmas trading period. Many retailers had struggled to compete with the growing popularity of online shopping, he said "The retail market has been tough all over the country.

"Certainly anecdotally we know that is also a very tough environment for retailers across the region, including North Otago, and they are coming under increasing pressure all the time with changes in the retail environment.

"In the lead-up to Christmas, many of them will be anticipating seeing some good trade through their stores. Without that, some will find it pretty difficult going into the new year."

Mr Christie said retailers selling "big-ticket items" in particular had struggled this year.

"From walking around town and talking to shop owners over the last couple of weeks, I can determine that it's been a challenging year for many of our retailers. I encourage the town and outlying community to consider buying local for Christmas this year and to come to town for a fun shopping experience.

"Bands and buskers will create a festive atmosphere for shoppers and the mayor will be walking through town with his Santa sack full of goodies.

"There will be entertainment in Harbour St, with wine bars and eateries open for shoppers to unwind in and relax at the end of the busy shopping day," Mr Christie said.

Business Development Oamaru chairman Lance Streeter said he would always encourage people to buy local, but said retailers should look to develop an "online presence" to to broaden their sales base.