Last minute Christmas spending continues

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 14:39 23/12/2013

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Last-minute Christmas shoppers are spending up large with almost $3.6 billion passing through the tills in the first three weeks of December, electronic payment processor Paymark says

Figures released today by the bank-owned eftpos operator showed spending for the three weeks of December was up 6.9 per cent on the same time last year.

Friday was the busiest day of the year to date, with $235.6 million spent, up 5.7 per cent on the same day in 2012.

Last December card spending rose a seasonally adjusted 4.3 per cent compared to December 2011.

However, Paymark's retail spending figures have not in the past matched figures from Statistics NZ.

The government department's figures showed electronic card spending for the total retail sector in December last year was up an adjusted 0.3 per cent on to the previous year.

Paymark head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston said the Christmas rush had continued during the third week of December.

New Zealanders spent more than $1.3b between December 15-21, Whiston said.

Growth so far for December was still ahead of the year-to-date average.

However, the annual growth rate had slowed from 8.6 per cent in the first week of December to a 6.9 per cent average over the month-to-date.

"Whether that reflects better planning this year or a reliance on the next two days will be interesting to see," he said.

Higher tourist numbers and construction activity had also had a positive influence on pre-Christmas spending, he said.

Growth momentum was sustained in a number of sectors.

Accommodation rose by 11.9 per cent, restaurants, bars and cafes by 10.4 per cent, food takeaways were up 10.4 per cent, and hardware and building supplies were up 10.1 per cent, Whiston said.

Conversely, internet spending could be impacting some sectors, such as clothing retailers and book shops, which were showing low growth or falling sales.

"The spending figures suggest we will be well groomed, well catered for, and under the tree might be some new shoes, a new pet, some jewellery, some electronic gadgetry and something for around the home," he said.

Palmerston North led spending growth in the regions over the first three weeks of December, up 9 per cent

Marlborough followed, up 8.7 per cent and Canterbury, up 7.6 per cent.

With less than two shopping days still to go before Christmas, as well as the Boxing Day sales, Paymark was anticipating December would be a strong month for many retailers.

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- Fairfax Media

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