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The Changing Face of Xmas in NZ

14 December 2004

The Changing Face of Xmas in NZ

An independent poll shows that Christmas in New Zealand is changing – it is becoming shorter and less relaxed.

The Botany Town Centre Christmas Poll (BTCCP), which is a unique study of New Zealanders attitudes to the festive season, shows that Kiwis expect to be more pressured this Christmas because the New Zealand economy continues to do so well.

Kiwis are working longer throughout the year and continuing their workweeks until very close to the Christmas break. This leaves less time for preparation, and puts more stress on the preparations that are made. Many businesses are working hard and are understaffed, meaning that more demands are placed on current employees.

According to Botany Town Centre Manager, Sandra Livingstone, the results provide a valuable insight into the New Zealand Christmas.

“The survey reveals that while New Zealanders view Christmas as being a time of celebration, financial and time constraints frequently cause concerns which impede upon the spirit of the season.

“While seeing family and friends ranks up at the top of the Joy level, Traffic and Parking is the number one Stress factor according to the inaugural Botany Town Centre Christmas Poll, (BTCCP), “ says Livingstone.

According to the BTCCP, 71 per cent of those surveyed believed the most positive aspect of Christmas to be bringing together family and friends, with the holiday providing an opportunity to recognise the importance of these relationships.

However for many New Zealand families, Christmas can be one of the most stressful periods of the year and the combination of the celebration with the summer holidays detracts from the joy of the season. Over 30 per cent of respondents named traffic and parking as the worst aspect of Christmas, while 17 per cent believed time pressures and the need to rush around was another significant contributing factor.

Botany Town Centre Christmas Poll researcher, Rick Starr, said the survey was unique in that it was the first study to accurately identify expectations of what the coming holiday will bring.

“Kiwis clearly love Christmas and the results confirmed expectations that New Zealanders find the holiday to be a mix of both joy and pressure. It is a rich, though intense, experience regardless of age, gender or nationality.”

The Poll, which surveyed 500 individuals nationwide, also demonstrated a strong recall of the commercial aspects of Christmas. Shopping was the fourth most commonly mentioned factor with the giving and receiving of gifts being associated with the holiday by 18 and 15 per cent of respondents respectively.

Gift giving and other traditional aspects of Christmas continue to be held as being of utmost importance. The celebration is regarded as an important cultural festival, while retaining religious meaning for some, however the remaining influence of Northern Hemisphere celebrations has been revealed to be somewhat disconcerting for many. This has prompted the practise of celebrating Christmas twice a year in December and also mid-winter when the weather seems more appropriate.

There appears to be a fundamental dissatisfaction around gift giving with a significant number of respondents saying they believe they give better gifts than they receive. According to the research, the person least likely to get a gift this year is the company boss!

Seasonality is also apparent with regards to cuisine with the third most commonly mentioned factor being special holiday food and eating. However only 3.4 per cent of those surveyed mentioned potential weight gain as a stressor at Christmas.

Financial constraints remain a worry for many with the growing emphasis on the item given, as opposed to the sentiment behind the gift.

About the Botany Town Centre Christmas Poll The independent research was conducted by Rick Starr and Company Ltd on behalf of Botany Town Centre. New Zealanders were qualitatively interviewed about their memories, feelings, and joys and stresses around the Christmas season. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a combination of focus group and individual, one-on-one sessions. In addition, quantitative answers were collected with a random nationwide telephone survey of 500 respondents who were 16 years old and older.


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