The sound of tills ringing throughout the land have all but drowned out jingle bells in stores this year.

Business owners and shoppers are optimistic about the year and excited to celebrate Christmas with loved ones.
Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal / Robin Martin

It has been better than expected, after what has been a tough year for many, as RNZ reporters discovered out talking to last-minute shoppers about the year that has been, and whether they were ready for tomorrow.

The sun finally came out in Nelson today, and with it the Christmas cheer.

Relaxed shoppers packed out the central city and boutique country stores, and reflected on the past few months.

“It’s been very challenging – a very, very challenging year and it doesn’t feel like Christmas, but I’m excited for Christmas because it’s a good family time,” said one shopper.

Leith, who lives in a caravan near Kaiteriteri, said despite everything the year had been great.

“Everything that happens, happens for a reason.”

He said he was well ready for Christmas, having begun preparations a few months ago.

Christmas baubles. (File image)

Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Sue, who was buying Christmas lights said the year, while different to usual, had not been too bad.

Paymark reported that year on year, sales around the country were slightly down but week on week, they were surging – with today seeing a record number of transactions per second.

Spokesperson Paul Brislen told Morning Report that around the country it was a tale of two halves.

He said those in the tourism sector and related businesses were noticing a big drop, but December was living up to its retail-star reputation.

Peter Owen has owned specialist Christmas store Eyebright on Nelson’s Waimea Plains for almost 35 years.

He said despite everything, it had been far-and-away the best year – by a country mile.

Peter Owen has owned a specialty Christmas store for 35 years.

Peter Owen has owned a specialty Christmas store for 35 years.
Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Owen said early planning prevented some of the shortages other retailers around the country were facing.

“Back in February, when we read about the virus in China, my shop manager and I sat down and she said to me: ‘there’s going to be shortages’.

“We were thinking more about the shipping back then. We’ve basically been conducting ourselves based on that assumption, ever since February.”

Seven-year-old Toby, on holiday in Nelson from Auckland, was in the store helping the family with last-minute shopping.

He was looking forward to spending Christmas day with his cousins and friends.

“We are going to our cousins’ house that live here and having a big dinner, with all our friends.”

Nelson artist and cafe owner Justine Summers.

Nelson artist and cafe owner Justine Summers.
Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Cafe owner and artist Justine Summers opened her Tasman business, The Container, in January this year and was then plunged into lockdown.

Despite that, she had no complaints about the year that’s been: “It’s been great – I’ve loved it. It’s been awesome,” she said of the time lockdown gave her to develop the garden and grounds around the business.

Summers was ready and looking forward to Christmas Day.

“We’ve got 49 people … not at my house, thank God, so it’s going to be mayhem, but it’s going to be good.”

In New Plymouth, shopper Bintang Sedgwick was preparing for a busy evening wrapping her Christmas shopping.

“This is my last minute, I haven’t wrapped anything so I’m going to do it when I get home. I’m going to wrap it [gifts] and go to the Christmas Eve tonight for dinner, but we’ve not yet got anything under the tree.”

Bintang Sedgwick says she's got a busy day of wrapping gifts and cooking on Christmas Eve.

Bintang Sedgwick says she’s got a busy day of wrapping gifts and cooking on Christmas Eve.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Dean Hickey was having a relaxed shopping time with his family, after the stress of a busy year.

“We’re business owners, we’ve got an aluminium joinery business and it’s been busy with the housing boom.

“It was sort of unexpected because after Covid everyone thought things would go a bit quiet but it went the opposite.

“We’ve had a big year – a stressful year because it’s been so busy, but rewarding all the same.”

And for those who do not manage to meet Christmas shopping deadlines, there is always Boxing Day.

Dean Hickey shopping with his family on Christmas Eve, after a busy year for his business.

Dean Hickey shopping with his family on Christmas Eve, after a busy year for his business.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin


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