Shops record increased spending
Christmas shopping is underway, with spending in the first week of December 8.6 per cent higher than last year, says electronic payment processor Paymark.
Figures released today by the bank-owned eftpos operator showed New Zealanders were already swiping their plastic as the silly season began.
Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of electronic transactions in New Zealand, said the 8.6 per cent rise in spending for the first week of December followed 6.8 per cent annual growth in spending between November 2013 and November 2012.
Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said the spending increase showed momentum was building towards the final Christmas countdown.
However, there was still a way to go before the big Christmas rush set in, Spicer said.
The extra spend in the first seven days of December on food and liquor was noticeable, suggesting people were keen to stock their cupboards for Christmas meals and socialise with family and friends, he said.
"More generally, it is promising to see the higher growth rate of late continue into the first week of the busy period."
Spicer said the annual growth rate had picked up since mid-year and the level of spending would be much higher in December.
Last year, December spending exceeded that of November by 16 per cent.
The increased activity and a sustained higher growth rate was encouraging, Spicer said.
Last year's spending trends suggested shoppers would now shift to department stores and furniture and appliance stores, he said.
A number of sectors performed well during November. Spending in hardware stores was up 15 per cent compared to last year, while spending on takeaways, cafes and restaurants was also up, the results showed.
In recent months, spending has also accelerated at liquor outlets, furniture and footwear stores, and accommodation providers.
All regions recorded growth during November, with annual growth strongest in Marlborough (10.1 per cent), Palmerston North (9.7 per cent), Canterbury (9.1 per cent) and Otago (8.4 per cent).
Nationwide during November, the volume of card transactions through the Paymark network was 7 per cent higher than a year ago, with credit card use up 13.9 per cent and debit card use up 4.9 per cent.