Jingling tills all the way
A nearly $5 billion dollar shopping spree over the past 28 days marks a spectacular end to years of economic gloom in New Zealand.
Between November 30 and December 27, New Zealanders used their electronic debit and credit cards to spend $4.682 billion.
That's about $1300 for every person over 15.
Spending peaked on Christmas Eve with $238.4 million through 116,000 terminals - about $67 each and up 18.5 per cent on Christmas Eve 2012.
Boxing Day jumped year-on-year by 12 per cent.
Paymark's Paul Whiston says the 28-day total spend is a 7.2 per cent jump on the same period last year.
It's a decisive shift away from the limp two to three per cent annual increases of the past five years that could be accounted for just by price rises and demographics. Not this time - people are spending much more.
"It is a genuine increase in spending," he says.
"The indications are that there is some consumer confidence out there. In the last few months we've seen an upswing."
Paymark processes 75 per cent of New Zealand's electronic transactions, but Whiston says they haven't supplanted cash yet - so the spending boost is certain to be much bigger than just the electronic transactions show.
"There is as much cash or even slightly more cash in the economy than there has ever been," he says.
Reserve Bank figures show there is $4.2 billion in cash floating around at any given time.
"There is still a lot of cash in the economy," says Whiston.
The average eftpos spend on Christmas Eve - $54.80 per swipe - is heavily influenced by food and alcohol. People stock-up for family gatherings and closed shops.
The same factor makes the day before Good Friday at Easter another of the year's big spends.
On Christmas Eve this year we spent 28 per cent more at food and liquor retailers than we did last year.
Boxing Day numbers saw furniture stores do 17.5 per cent better than last year and appliances and whiteware was up 16.6 per cent.
Despite a Vodafone glitch in Wellington with eftpos on Boxing Day, Whiston says New Zealanders lead the world with electronic payments - doing 250 transactions per year each, nearly twice the rate of the next busiest nation, Canada.
Whiston says cards are unlikely to finish off cash just yet, but he questions how much longer banks will persist with cheques.
Paying with mobile phones is likely to be the next big thing as "convenience and speed get more prevalent."
CONSUMER GUIDE TO RETURNING GOODS
My child's gift broke:
Minor fault: The retailer can choose between repairing it, replacing it, or giving you a refund. If the retailer refuses to fix the problem or takes longer than is reasonable, ask for your money back.
Serious fault: The buyer gets to choose between a refund, asking for a replacement or keeping the goods but receiving a discounted price.
I'm told I can have a credit note as a refund:
A refund means exactly that - a full cash refund - not a credit note, and not a refund less deductions for anything related to the failure of the goods.
No refunds on sales goods:
Retailers who refuse refunds on Boxing Day sales items are breaking the law. The retailer is legally obliged to replace, repair or refund faulty goods.
I hate my new jumper:
A retailer is not legally obliged to exchange or refund goods because you change your mind or don't like a gift. However, some retailers offer exchange or return policies. Generally the tags must still be attached.
Look for return conditions on a retailer's website or the sales receipt. If they don't have an exchange policy, consider listing the new Christmas reindeer jumper on TradeMe.
My wife doesn't like her new necklace. Can I get a refund?
No. If you change your mind, all you can do is politely ask for your money back. The retailer is under no obligation to refund you.
Many online clothing retailers offer exchange policies for items that do not fit. This is a decision made by individual retailers and is not legally required. If a jumper doesn't match its online description, the company must replace or refund the goods and cover postage.
Our new fan short-circuited and burned a hole in the wall:
The shop must pay for replacing the fan and reimburse you for the damage.
I changed my mind on a flat-screen telly:
There are exceptions to the rules. If you signed a credit contract for a new television but the goods are yet to be delivered, you have the right to cancel the contract within three days of purchase.
A toaster must be a toaster:
Goods must also be fit for their purpose and be of acceptable quality. A $200 toaster should last you longer and be of higher quality than a $10 one. You can take the items back if they are not up to scratch.
Sunday Star Times