LONDON: Seafood, barbecued chickens and champagne will be hot sellers as families prepare to tackle Christmas feasts in sweltering temperatures. Grocery and liquor stores, markets, butchers and delicatessens statewide are bracing for a customer avalanche. National Australia Bank said 12.30pm would be the busiest time at check-outs as frantic shoppers swoop on festive food and last-minute gifts. Hot roast chicken sales on Christmas Eve at Coles triple, eclipsing any other day of the year. About half a million are expected to be snapped up at its stores nationwide. “We expect even more hot roast chickens to feature on Christmas tables this year with temperatures set to soar, giving Australians one less thing to put in the oven,” Coles deli business category manager Charlotte Gilbert said. Coles and rival Woolworths combined push in excess of 7.5 million kilos of ham and 4.2 million fruit mince pie packs through check-outs nationwide over the yuletide period. With two in five Aussies incorporating seafood into Christmas Day, demand for prawns is also massive.
Queen Victoria Market’s fresh produce counters will be pulsating from 6am today. Traders will offload 15 tonnes of prawns, 10,000 dozen oysters, 2500 turkeys and 2000 hams. Tasman Butchers suggests entertainers aim for each guest to have four canapés, 300g of meat, two full-strength beers or two glasses of wine, five to six spoonfuls of vegetables or salad, and 150g of dessert (for pudding, a third of a small plate size). Victorians will spend $426 million on food and other retail items today, the Retail Council forecasts. “Given that Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year, we expect shoppers to take advantage of the extra day off work before Christmas,” acting CEO Steve Wright said. Gift card sales will be going gangbusters. At Chadstone Shopping Centre alone, more than $1 million worth were bought in the past week, up 25 per cent on last year. For panicked consumers who forget presents, chocolates, toy batteries and other emergency items, convenience stores are open on Christmas Day. Coles Express ice sales skyrocket 2500 per cent on Christmas Day, while gas swap bottle business almost doubles. A day after gorging on Christmas lunch and dinner, shoppers will binge on Boxing Day sales, splurging more than $2 billion nationally.