Big jump in consumer spending
Last year saw the first "significant increase" in spending since 2008, electronic payment processor Paymark says.
Figures released today by the bank-owned eftpos operator showed electronic card spending was up 7.5 per cent last month compared with December 2012.
Seasonally adjusted month-on-month spending was up 1.7 per cent in December.
Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said the figures indicated a continued upswing in spending on the network during 2013, culminating in a buoyant Christmas period.
"Following record-smashing spending on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, it is not surprising to finish on such a high in December," he said.
Paymark last year processed 986 million transactions, totalling $49.3 billion.
The average transaction value of $49.99 was 0.2 per cent above the 2012 average.
"For the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis we're seeing a significant increase in spending, which should bring optimism for most Kiwi retailers, and hopefully we see this momentum continue into 2014."
The volume of card transactions last month was 6.8 per cent higher than a year ago, with credit card growth (15.2 per cent) remaining higher than debit card growth (4 per cent).
High growth in December was recorded by pet stores (9.2 per cent), sporting and camping equipment stores (9.3 per cent), footwear retailers (9.2 per cent), and watch and jewellery shops (8.7 per cent), Whiston said.
Duty-free shops and furniture stores had double-digit year-on-year growth at 17.3 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively.
Many sectors showed strong spending patterns last month, Whiston said.
The hospitality sector was up 9.5 per cent, including significant growth in accommodation (11 per cent), in contrast to no real year-on-year growth 12 months earlier, he said.
Gisborne led the way in December, with spending up 9.9 per cent.
Marlborough followed with 9.4 per cent growth, and Palmerston North with 9 per cent.
Growth rates remained low on the West Coast and Wellington at 2.7 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively, Whiston said.