Shoppers expected to be out in force

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2012

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Impressive pre-Christmas spending could signal a potential Boxing Day shopping bonanza for Christchurch retailers.

Paymark figures showed the region's electronic transactions for the week ending December 23 were up $11.3 million on the same period last year.

The $152.5m spend - an 8 per cent increase - was well above the 2.5 per cent national average.

Canterbury's December increase was nearly double the national average and sales the past week more than tripled.

Paymark chief executive officer Simon Tong said other areas had fallen away in the two days before Christmas but Canterbury remained strong. Sales at garden centres, hardware, floor covering and furniture, and department stores this month increased more than 20 per cent over last year, which was likely to be linked to the Christchurch rebuild.

"You have to assume there's some aspect of that in there. You're just not seeing that same level of growth across the other regions," Tong said.

The figures suggested Boxing Day sales would be especially fruitful for the city's retailers, he said.

"If we're right about some of that earlier growth being down to [the rebuild], you'd assume [shoppers] would have a crack on Boxing Day too," Tong said.

A 7.7 per cent increase on Boxing Day last year compared with 2010 suggested Canterbury's figures were a "genuine increase" rather than an improvement on otherwise low numbers, he said.

"I'd say for 2011 and 2012, based on these numbers, a reasonable amount of the underlying growth is there. It looks pretty positive and from our point of view, it's a good result."

The warm weather in Canterbury played its part also, Tong said.

"[Auckland] has had rubbish weather because of the end of the cyclone. That does definitely affect people's moods and their desire to get out there."

Nelson increased 0.6 per cent in the week ending December 23, Marlborough 3.6 per cent, West Coast 1.3 per cent, South Canterbury 3.3 per cent, Otago 2.8 per cent, while Southland dropped 0.9 per cent. Auckland/Northland spending was up 1.9 per cent, while Wellingtonians proved a frugal bunch with spending in the capital dropping 1.6 per cent on last year. The two regions still spent more than $650m combined.

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