Noelle Pocknall with her daughter Amy Pocknall from Ngunnawal looking for some last minute gift items at Toys 'R' Us Majura Park.

Noelle Pocknall with her daughter Amy Pocknall from Ngunnawal looking for some last minute gift items at Toys 'R' Us Majura Park. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

WHETHER it's the online revolution or worries about the health of the national economy, there were few signs of the much awaited Christmas retail rush in Canberra on Saturday.

With a basket full of toys, Noelle Pocknall of Ngunnawal and her daughter Amy were doing some last-minute Christmas shopping at Majura Park Shopping Centre.

They were at Toys 'R' Us choosing gifts for Ms Pocknall's five nieces and nephews in Sydney, whom Amy would be visiting over Christmas.

Ms Pocknall she had been busy and had family birthdays fall around Christmas, which meant she had left most of her shopping until just a few days before December 25.

''I've got to get my son a gift - Amy's getting hers this afternoon, got to sort out their dad's, got to do everything,'' she laughed.

An aisle over, Alissa Byron of Adelaide was choosing presents for her two step-daughters aged four and seven.

She was in Canberra visiting family but planned to fly back to South Australia for Christmas.

''They like anything pink or purple or to do with fairies or barbies - I'm trying not to go all pink,'' she said.

Majura Park got a steady stream of shoppers, but there was no problem finding a parking space there or at nearby DFO.

Geoffrey Morton, managing director of Toyworld in Fyshwick, said it had been a challenging Christmas for retailers.

''We've had a good steady flow, but people have just been a little bit more conservative about what they're spending,'' he said.

''We're seeing people spending less than they have been in previous years.''

ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Chris Peters said local Christmas trade was about on a par with last year.

''Retailers are finding it very hard to increase their sales over last year, and bear in mind last year wasn't a good year, so the test will be what happens in the post-Christmas sales,'' he said.

In the past, stores would not put their goods on sale until Boxing Day, Mr Peters said, but that had changed in recent years.

''These days Christmas sales are in the lead-up to Christmas, Christmas itself and post-Christmas - you need to add those three together,'' he said.

''People are more selective about when they buy, and we're increasingly seeing people wait for the post-Christmas sales in the hope of getting a better price, although the prices are so competitive right now I'd be very surprised if they are any cheaper after Christmas.''