Tis the Season to be Bingeing

There will be more than kissing going on under the mistletoe this year - if supermarket condom sales are anything to go by.

Condom and lubricant sales are bumped up by 25 per cent each Christmas, supermarket figures obtained by the Sunday Star-Times show.

The increased condom sales seems to go hand in hand with the extra effort we put into our appearance over summer. And alcohol consumption: New Zealanders swill back 136 per cent more sparkling wine and 40 per cent more light beer over summer. We also down 44 per cent more cider.

A quarter of New Zealanders over-indulge on alcohol, which has a range of consequences, National Addiction Centre director, professor Doug Sellman said.

"Using condoms while drunk is like driving while drunk - the risk of accident substantially increases," Sellman said.

Then there's the hangover.

Pain relief tablet sales jump by 20 per cent, and digestive care product sales reach their annual peak at 20 per cent around Christmas.

It's because we're all out to have a good time.

"Christmas is the time to pull out all the stops," says Chris Brickell, associate professor of sociology at Otago University.

"People are escaping. They're going off to do something more fun. They're more relaxed.

"We buy sparkling wine because it's symbolic of Christmas and celebration. It's a bit like turkey, it may not taste good but we do it anyway."

But it's good old barbecue steak, not turkey, that makes it on to our tables. Beef product sales shoot up by a third over summer.

Soft white cheeses and blue cheese make it on to the festive shopping list, along with the traditional pavlova, Christmas cake, fruit mince pies and icecream.

Down the health and cosmetics aisle, we're making a concerted effort to look good.

Razors, hair removal creams and wax products increase in sales by 50 per cent at this time each year.

Fake tanning products show the biggest jump, with sales quadrupling in the lead-up to Christmas, and dropping off as the sun starts shining in January.

While we're darkening our skin, we're lightening our hair. Blonding and hair lightening product sales are boosted by a third through December, with dyes experiencing a 20 per cent lift overall.

And it's not just women wanting to look their best. Men can expect to get more skincare products in their stockings - sales jump by 40 per cent in the weeks before Christmas.

Not surprisingly, we buy more than four times the amount of sunscreen than we would the rest of the year. But just because we're buying it, does not mean we're all using it. Sunburn remedies sell at 172 per cent above normal in the same time frame.

- Sunday Star Times


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