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Here’s what shopping centres in New Zealand are doing for Christmas

Retail during the holidays will be in a good place this year, according to an industry expert.

Chris Wilkinson, First Retail managing director, said in an interview with The Register that the significant changes to both work culture and consumer patterns have lessened the “last-minute nature of Christmas” shopping, which will provide more time for people to visit and browse and make purchases in-store.

“We see the growth in e-commerce now stabilising and with increasing choice and value in our stores, we feel that retail will be a good place to be this year,” Wilkinson said.

Taking advantage of this positive outlook, retail landlords have spruced up their shopping centres and announced the plans they have for guests over the holidays which include more inclusive activities, shows, workshops and events. 

Sylvia Park Mall

Children with sensory challenges will have their own time to meet and greet Santa at two locations in Auckland’s Sylvia Park Mall: the Sylvia Park Santa set and the Sylvia Park Kiwi Lounge.

The Sensory Santa sessions will take place from 8-9 in the morning from December 16-18.

Children who visit Santa during the sensory Santa sessions and regular sessions will receive a stuffed dog toy. They can also have a 6×4-sized Santa photos for free, although, according to the Kiwi Property-owned shopping centre, they only have a limited number available per day.

This year, guests with four legged friends can bring their pets for a family and pet photo session with Santa, but these sessions need to be booked beforehand.  

Sylvia Park will be open until 10pm on Black Friday, November 29, to give people more time to browse and make purchases.

All Kiwi Property-owned malls, including Sylvia Park, will have a donation-based gift-wrapping station, where consumers can have their purchases wrapped. Donations will got to charity.

Centre Place Mall

Centre Place has launched its Christmas celebration early with the arrival of Santa over the weekend (November 23-24) and fun-filled activities, including face painting, balloon twisting and rounding up the reindeer game.

The mall, which is owned by Kiwi Property and located in Hamilton, will have regular meet and greet Santa sessions and Sensory Santa sessions next to Redcurrent at the Victoria Street entrance.

The Sensory Santa sessions will take place from 7:30-9:30 in the morning from December 1-8.

Children who visit with Santa during the regular sessions and Sensory Santa sessions will receive a children’s picture book.

Lynn Mall

Lynn Mall outside of Auckland also launched its Christmas celebrations over the weekend, with Santa dropping by for a visit on November 23.

Santa will be visiting the mall again on December 7 from 10-4, December 12 from 10-6 and December 24 from 10-4.

Children who visit Santa will receive a free Kiwi Christmas book.

Lynn Mall will have extended hours from December 12-23, staying open from 9-9. On December 24, mall hours will be from 9-6. 

Westfield Newmarket

Auckland’s Westfield Newmarket unveiled the final stage of its $790 million redevelopment on November 21, with 50 new stores opening during the launch. This is in addition to the 40 stores that opened on August 29.

From November 15 until December 25, guests at the mall are invited to create a personalised virtual Christmas card using a Google tilt brush, a free offering from Spark. The virtual Christmas cards are crafted by digital artist Lei Wen, but guests can give the cards a twist with this free in-store experience.

Westfield Newmarket has invited kids to post letters to Santa until December 18 and Santa will make sure each child receives a response. Guests are asked to post the letters in the mailbox by 9pm on December 18. Blank letters are available at the mall’s Guest Services desks and some can also get a copy on the mall’s site.

All Westfield malls in Australia and New Zealand will offer Sensitive Santa sessions for children and other individuals with sensory challenges, giving them a chance to meet and greet Santa outside of peak trading hours.

All bookings will be hosted as private sessions with subdued lighting and no background music.

Westfield Riccarton

The Westfield Riccarton shopping centre in Christchurch will have Sensitive Santa sessions and regular meet and greet sessions with Santa like all the other Westfield malls.

The shopping centre will also bring the magic of the North Pole to the mall by making it snow inside the centre.

Children can experience this from 6-9 in the morning from December 12-December 23.

Botany Town Centre

Botany Town Centre outside of Auckland will be offering interactive Christmas-themed master classes from December 2-7 at 11am at the Botany Library Maker Space room.

Sessions will include gift wrapping tips and tricks, how to dress your tree, Christmas platter making, how to make Christmas crackers and baubles, Christmas table setting and how to make your own day-before-Christmas activity box.

There are two one-hour sessions per day and spaces are limited so the centre is encouraging those who are interested to book before going.

Kids can meet and greet Santa and have photo sessions from November 23 to December 24 at the centre’s Candyland location, between H&M and Mecca Maxima.

There will also be Sensitive Santa sessions on December 1 and December 8 from 8-10am. Space is limited so bookings are necessary.

According to Vend’s “Top Retail Trends and Predictions for New Zealand”, people are going to continue spending money in the future and it is up to each retailer to evolve with the changing landscape to seal the deal.

Judging from what the country’s shopping centres have planned for the holidays, they are working with their tenants to draw shoppers to their malls with their special activities and events, helping them not only to survive, but thrive.

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