Shops cross fingers

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Retail bosses have similar Christmas-New Year wish.

Despite economic jitters, Waka­­tipu retailers are hoping they won’t be hit by a pre-Christmas sales slump.

Present trading appears quieter in several stores but managers hope lower fuel prices, reduced interest rates and a new government will stave off a downturn.

Queenstown Toyworld manager Natasha Smaga says the general mood among local retailers is that it’s pretty quiet so far but “everybody’s hoping it will pick up”.

In The Pink gift store co-owner Chris McKay agrees: “No one’s going to come and shop in your store if you’re

going to be negative.”

His store’s “tracking along” and he hopes a weekly promotion that offers $200 and $1000 shopping sprees in the lead-up to Christmas will help boost sales: “It’s another way of bringing people in the store before Christmas.”

The Frontrunner Queenstown owner Paul Garvie says sales so far are better than last year – 2007 was his first year as owner – “but you expect your second year to be better than your first”.

“The mood in town is not great but I think if we work on getting people what they want – the right product – then I don’t think there’s any need to panic.”

With three weeks till Christmas, some businesses report sales figures are consistent with this time last year.

Toy sales are on par with last year’s record takings at Queenstown Toyworld, Smaga says.

“But it’s early days. I can’t tell you what will happen over the next few weeks but hopefully the economic situation will not affect us. Kids still want toys for Christmas.”

However, people are shopping more wisely and there’s less impulse-buying, she says.

“People will put items on hold or on layby to make sure they’ve got the right item.”

Spending stimuli such as lower interest rates and petrol, plus a change of government, may make shoppers “a bit more bullish as a result”, Noel Leeming New Zealand boss Andrew Dutkiewicz says.

“We are confident of Christmas – we are stocking up and advertising quite strongly.”

But he’s not so bullish about post-Christmas.

“Come New Year it will be slightly different.

“We know there will be price rises, certainly in our industry, because the weaker dollar is going to catch up on us after Christmas,” he says.

The nationwide appliance chain, which has a store at Remarkables Park, is getting creative in its marketing methods to help generate sales – the Queenstown store held a “locals’ day” last Friday.