Christmas shopping spending already $2.2b
New Zealanders are getting stuck into Christmas shopping with more than $2.2 billion spent in the first two weeks of December, electronic payment processor Paymark says.
Figures released today by the bank-owned eftpos operator showed spending for the first two weeks of December was up 7.7 per cent on the same time last year.
This is higher than the 5.7 per cent average spending increase recorded for the first 11 months of the year.
Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said the shoppers came out on Friday.
December 13 was recorded as the busiest shopping day of the month and second-busiest this year, behind Easter Thursday, with 3.6 million transactions worth more than $187 million processed, Spicer said.
"Past trends indicate that we can expect spending to continue this growth pattern in the next week as Kiwis count down the days to Christmas," he said.
Credit-card spending was growing at a faster rate than debit-card spending, Spicer said.
However, that did not necessarily mean Kiwis were spending beyond their means this Christmas, he said.
Tap-and-go technology had led to more people paying with credit cards for convenience, Spicer said.
So far, December spending had been consistent with that of last year, when Paymark transactions for December were $4.5b, Spicer said.
Retail spending was on track to meet or exceed last December's spending, he added.
The week before Christmas was usually the busiest point of the month for Paymark, with Christmas Eve being the busiest day in December, he said.
Palmerston North and Marlborough recorded spending growth of 9.5 per cent compared to last year, with Canterbury, Auckland/Northland, Taranaki, Otago and Southland also showing strong growth in the lead-up to Christmas, the figures showed.
Accommodation providers experienced 11.7 per cent spending growth compared to last year.
New Zealanders were also spending at restaurants, bars and cafes, liquor retailers, and takeaway restaurants.
Shoppers continued to splash out on home DIY goods, with hardware and building supply outlets up 12 per cent, Spicer said.
Electronics retailers also showed strong gains during the two-week period, up 9.1 per cent.
Spicer said spending on electronics was possibly buoyed by the recent launch of gaming consoles and the strong New Zealand dollar affecting electronic goods prices.
While total spending was up, growth in some regions and sectors remained modest, he said.
Spending in the West Coast region was up 0.6 per cent.
Wellington also experienced modest growth of 3.9 per cent along with Wairarapa at 3.6 per cent and Wanganui 3.5 per cent.
Spending on clothing and apparel was up 4.5 per cent and floor coverings and furniture was up 3.6 per cent.
Spending in the automotive sector and at bookshops and video stores declined.
Spicer said the 10 per cent drop in spending at bookshops and on videos was probably due to more consumers downloading content or buying from overseas websites such as Amazon.