Several Kiwis admit they can't afford Christmas as cost-of-living crisis worsens

It might only be mid-November, but the holiday season is well underway with Santa arriving at many malls around the country. 

While the man in red is his usual jolly self, that's not the case for many shoppers who say they can't afford Christmas this year, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. 

T'was the 36th day before Christmas, and all through the malls, the Santas were stirring while wallets were hurting. 

While the man in red may be loosening his belt, many Kiwis are tightening theirs. 

Newshub took to the streets, to ask Kiwis if they'd be able to afford Christmas presents this year. 

"Probably not, yeah," one man said. 

"The cost of everything is just too high," another said. 

 "Definitely different from previous years," a woman added. 

And that's flowing on to retailers, with the holiday shopping season off to a slow start. 

Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ) said card spending was down $44 million in October, compared to the previous year. 

"I was talking to a retailer in Auckland who's been in retail for 41 years and he told me that 10 days ago it was the quietest Wednesday on record," Retail NZ CEO Carolyn Young said. 

A survey of Retail New Zealand's members found that 61 percent of retailers did not meet their sales targets for the third quarter. 

That means this fourth quarter is critical and we're told that if some small businesses don't do well this Christmas, they may not be back next year. 

Christchurch shoe shop owner Leyton Tremain admitted despite making good sales, many are still browsing. 

"A lot of people are under pressure with their budgets, so they want to be confident that the decision they're making is the right decision for them," Tremain said. 

"Really, we're looking to see a turnaround in the economy. We want to see inflation get under control - the cost of living to come back," Young said. 

"We're starting to see some changes in prices at supermarkets and we need to see more." 

While it's a struggle for many consumers and retailers, Monsoon Poon Restaurant co-owner and Restaurant Association NZ's president Mike Eagan said a lot of companies are making sure their employees will get a Christmas. 

He believes Christmas party bookings are strong.  

"Obviously government departments pay their own way, and some other organisations the bosses might put some money on the bar for a few drinks beforehand," Eagan said.  

"One of the DHBs, I know of one department where the consultants who work private and public have chipped in and they're paying for the whole team for their Christmas dinner." 

It's a gift of giving, that many Kiwis can't afford this year.