Wallets given an airing in post-Christmas splash
Shoppers gave themselves - and retailers - a late Christmas present, spending up large at the Boxing Day sales, drawn out by big discounts.
Figures from Paymark, which processes about three-quarters of electronic payment transactions in the country, show spending was up 13.4 per cent - or $14.2 million - on Wednesday, compared with Boxing Day last year.
Transactions through Paymark's network ticked over two million by volume and hit $120m by value, compared with $106m on the same day last year.
Spending in Wellington had been down slightly just before Christmas compared with the same period last year. But shoppers made up for it on Boxing Day, with sales up more than 12 per cent on the same day last year, despite many people leaving town last week for Christmas holidays.
Palmerston North and Wairarapa were even stronger, up 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
Nationally, shoppers made a beeline for consumer electronics - with spending in the sector shooting up almost 32 per cent on last year.
Jewellery stores had spending lift by more than 24 per cent, and clothing and apparel shops were up almost 21 per cent year-on-year.
Paymark sales and marketing head Paul Whiston said the 13.4 per cent increase was the first double-digit increase for Boxing Day in five years, and a return to the kind of growth figures seen before the global financial crisis.
Retailers Association spokeswoman Louise Evans-McDonald said the spend-up had exceeded expectations - topping last Boxing Day's annual growth of about 7 per cent.
Big retail chains were offering up to 50 per cent to 60 per cent off some items and electronics were cut by about 20 per cent in many chain stores.
Clothing stores also did well. Menswear chain Tarocash in Wellington said they had a "massive rush" for about four hours over lunchtime yesterday before shopping tailed off.
"The rush was bigger than [Boxing Day] - it was a constant flow of people buying things," shop assistant Chris Moore said.
Central Wellington menswear store Munns said trading on Boxing Day, was "exceptional - we did very well, but not quite as good as last year for us," assistant manager Jason Corbett said.
Store sales may have been affected by Kirkcaldie & Stains department store opening on Boxing Day for the first time, he said.
The store was selling some shirts for less than half price and had been in sale mode for the past six weeks.
The only thing that kept Munns busy at this time of year was the visiting cruise ships, with one in port on Boxing Day, bringing in plenty of Australians who spent up in the stores.
"That makes up for all the people who leave for their bach or head north," Mr Corbett said.
Clare Bowden, owner of Wellington menswear store Mandatory, said trading at the high-end New Zealand-made clothing store had been strong in the leadup to Christmas.
"There are people spending quite a lot of money in Cuba St in the smaller [locally owned] stores," she said.Around the country Gisborne was the top region for spending growth, up nearly 23 per cent year-on-year.
Sam Herbert, manager at Smiths City Gisborne, said Boxing Day had definitely been bigger this year. "We had some pre-Boxing Day sales. But people have a mindset that the Boxing Day sale is the sale of the year."
TVs and whiteware were the hot sellers, with most shoppers treating themselves rather than buying for others.
"People think, ‘Oh it's Christmas I'll shout myself'. And the discounts make it easier [to buy]."
But shoppers were still showing some restraint.
"People aren't splashing out $3000 to $5000 on lounge suites and beds. In electronics you can get massive technology for $300 to $500. You can buy a Blu-ray player now for $60. It's mad."
The Dominion Post