Last minute shopping frenzy expected

SHOPPERS are expected to bombard the Hunter’s retail hubs today in a last-ditch attempt to stuff stockings.

Strong trade is expected on the last shopping day before Christmas, with several of the region’s main retail hubs predicting strong crowds and a peak in trade.

Among those polishing off their lists yesterday were Muswellbrook pair Dean and Wendy Jenner, with son Jordan, 1.

Ms Jenner said she and her husband were buying for each other and had spent a few hundred dollars, but that amount was down due to other priorities, including a planned move to Newcastle.

‘‘We’ve got heaps of other things going on so we’ve had to slow down a bit,’’ Ms Jenner said.

Nelson Bay’s Kiara Thompson was shopping with aunt Lara Hopkins and cousin Molly, 3, who were visiting from Brisbane.

The trio said they were pleasantly surprised by smaller than expected crowds.

‘‘I think a lot of people have been buying online,’’ Ms Hopkins said.

Westfield Kotara centre manger Ryan Burns said trade had been running close to or slightly above 2011 numbers, ticking higher as the day approached.

‘‘The last couple of days have been very very strong, especially from a traffic and a trade point of view,’’ Mr Burns said.

Charlestown Square general manager Martin Howes said the centre had improved slightly on last year’s performance.

‘‘Certainly considering last year the centre had just come out of its redevelopment, to have steady growth this year is a good result,’’ Mr Howes said.

Roughly two million shoppers had passed through the centre in November and December, Mr Howes said.

Stockland spokeswoman Lucy Wilson said early data indicated strong trade at all of its centres, including Green Hills, Glendale, Wallsend and Jesmond.

‘‘Early feedback from both our major national retailers and independent stores indicates a modest but reasonable increase in spending compared to last year,’’ Ms Wilson said. 

‘‘While it is too early to provide crowd numbers, we expect Christmas Eve to be the busiest day of December at Green Hills.’’

Centres will remain closed tomorrow and Boxing Day except for some retailers, with sales beginning on Thursday.

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