Shops packed on last shopping weekend before Christmas

This time next week it'll be Christmas Eve, and your absolute last chance to buy presents.

But for the more organised, Saturday was the day to hit the shops. While clothing and toy shops were busy, the most popular items are closer to home.

Getting a park is a strictly organised operation and once inside manoeuvring among the crowds is just as difficult on the last weekend before Christmas and one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The latest figures show that spending was up nearly 5.5 percent on this time last year, and the company that controls the EFTPOS machines, Paymark, is forecasting nothing but growth between now and Christmas.

Retail New Zealand says this is partly down to pre-Christmas discounts, all designed to compete against online shopping.

Tens of thousands of people will pass through shopping centres in the run-up to Christmas, buying these last gifts for loved ones. While online shopping is still popular, it appears nothing beats actually coming to the shops.

Homeware shops are reporting particularly good sales too, so if you're expecting a book or a bottle of wine, don't be surprised if it's a bath towel.