Durban - It’s been jingle tills all round this festive season as Durban shoppers, with upcountry visitors, wildly swipe credit cards, shop for fancy goods and stay in top hotels.
And with Christmas still another three days away, local shopping malls are expecting brisk trade, while hotels are lapping up visitors filling rooms at the last minute.
However, in the midst of the merry making, shoppers have been cautioned to spend wisely, shop safely, and not forget that January lies around the corner.
Nisha Kemraj, general manager of the Pavilion Shopping Centre, said foot traffic had increased, exceeding last year’s figures.
Kemraj said the centre management expected an extremely busy “long” shopping weekend, up until Christmas Eve on Tuesday, with customers taking advantage of extended shopping hours and usually shopping after work often included eating out before heading home.
Cindene Smith, spokeswoman for La Lucia Mall, said they expected a total spend of R140 million at the centre over the festive shopping season.
Gateway shopping centre is expected to see 3.6 million shoppers pass through its doors.
Major retailers such as Toys R US, Pick n Pay and Woolworths are experiencing a rise in shopping and festive foot traffic and have consequently put certain measures in place.
Toys R Us marketing manager Michelle Thomas said weekday sales were increasing to match that of weekend sales.
“An increase in requests from parents are for educational toys and the remote control vehicles section has gained popularity,” said Thomas.
Pick n Pay’s Christmas trading increased significantly from the end of November, said marketing director Adrian Naude.
Popular items include wine, due to the special wine offers and Christmas meat hampers in the food and grocery line and holiday season foods such as confectionary and nuts, said Naude.
Durban’s hotel occupancy rates are also growing, said Gerhard Patzer, chairman of the KZN branch of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa).
“The mainstream hotels have more bookings than last year and now that the weather is coming right in Durban, we expect there will be more last-minute bookings from Gauteng,” said Patzer.
However, while Durbanites and visitors are keen to spend and be merry this festive season, “Jan-u-worry” lies on the horizon.
Festive season shoppers, paid earlier than usual in December, should bear in mind that a long January is still to follow.
Debt counsellor Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue, encouraged recipients of 13th cheques to use them to reduce or pay up their debts, especially where they involve high interest.
He advised consumers to spend wisely over the festive season.
“In order to do that, they should draw up a reasonable budget and be disciplined to live by it. All financial obligations should be honoured. This period is known for high levels of default on debts.”
The warning is timeous, as FNB credit card chief executive of Johan Maree, explained that the bank receives high credit card applications from as early as October and November.
Maree said according to data, customers tend to spend about 20 percent more on credit during December than they do throughout the rest of the year.
Advising consumers to spend wisely, Aneesa Razack, head of strategic growth at FNB investment products, said people must draw up a realistic budget for the festive season and stick to it. Often, said Razack, consumers fell into the spending “trap” in December.
This is reflected in the latest figures from the National Credit Regulator data which shows that almost 50 percent of credit active consumers have impaired records.
Independent on Saturday