More than 100,000 people have rushed to the Sydney Fish Market for last-minute additions to their Christmas banquets during the market’s 36-hour marathon trading period.
About 750 tonnes of seafood will be sold at the market over the Christmas period, with prawns being by far the most popular, making up 200 tonnes of the seafood sold.
Fish market tour guide Alex Stollznow said the busiest hours were mornings and meal times.
While there are hundreds of variety of seafood on offer, Mr Stollznow said prawns are traditionally the biggest seller.
“This year, as always, prawns are the most popular at Christmas, in particular the medium farmed Black Tiger Prawns,” he said.
“These have been farmed in southern Queensland, and because they know Christmas is their busy time, they get these ready in time to harvest for Christmas.
“So these have been coming in over the last few days and these will be ready to eat for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, even the day after.
Mr Stollznow said foot traffic among the stalls had already surpassed last year’s total by 5 per cent.
That included plenty of early-morning shoppers trying to beat the crowds.
Vanessa Mastro, who had braved the busy markets with her father, said a trip to pick up seafood was essential for Christmas supplies.
“It’s extremely hot, so having some nice cold seafood on the table just feels like Christmas in Australia, so you can’t go without it,” she said.
$50 billion expected in sales
The rush to pick up seafood from Sydney markets is just a fraction of what the Australian Retailers Association predicted would be $20 billion worth of food sales around the country in the lead-up to Christmas.
However, ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said there were plenty of shoppers still doing last-minute gift purchases.
“What has really surprised me about today is the number of people who are still out buying their last Christmas purchase, because traditionally we see this is a time where the focus is all around food,” he said.
“You can still see, as you walk through the city, people walking through with parcels, and that’s a great thing, because we know people are still Christmas shopping.”
He pointed to the impact of online sales this year as the catalyst for a possible record total turnover.
“Online represents well over 7 per cent of the total turnover of retail,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“We know that from talking to retailers, that online is probably the largest growth area in the business.
“It’s a great time for retail.”