Retailers hoping for a buoyant Christmas

Oamaru retailers are optimistic a strong start to the Christmas shopping season will continue.

With fewer than three weeks until the big day, the majority of main-street retailers have reported good sales over the past fortnight, a trend they expect to continue until Christmas Eve.

Inspirationz owner Jan Nuttall said based on how busy her store had been recently, she expected her till to be ringing constantly.

“The last three weeks have been really good, so it’s all pretty positive. I expect it to be flat out.”

Mathers Jewellery and Time co-owner John Mather said both aspects of his business had been ticking along nicely.

“The workshop has been really busy, so there’s a lot of work on. Compared to everyone else, I think we’ve been busy enough.

“It’s usually the last week before Christmas for us. Guys like to leave stuff to the last minute, so it’s always the last three or four days that things go a bit manic.”

Tangibles owner Rachel Hayes was similarly confident.

“It is picking up and you can feel the vibe around, so fingers crossed. It’s definitely got a feel of Christmas at the moment, so I am being positive.”

Victor Nelson Cycles owner Pat Conn said November’s sales took a hit but had slowly recovered.

“Things were not too bad until that rain hit then it quickened up a bit. Things have picked up since then, so hopefully it will carry on – as long as people shop local and don’t go out of town.”

Sutherlands Mens & Ladieswear owner Graeme Sutherland said his store had not been noticeably busier, but expected that to change over the next few weeks.

Whether main-street retailers will stay open late in the lead-up to Christmas is another matter.

Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago advisory board chairman Stephen Halliwell said the board had not organised anything formal related to evening Christmas hours, but expected some businesses would be open for longer.

Mr Conn said he planned to speak to other businesses to find out their plans, and Mr Mather said his shop’s hours would be based on how many customers were around at the time.

He said in the past, late hours tended to be “a bit hit and miss”.

Stores in the Victorian precinct will be open until 7pm on December 21, in conjunction with the Oamaru Farmers’ Market twilight market from 4pm to 7pm.

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