Retail sales up as shoppers' confidence back

JAZIAL CROSSLEY AND CLAIRE ROGERS
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012

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Wellington residents are having a merrier Christmas than last year, spending $10.5 million more this December, especially on bubbly and new carpets.

Total retail spending in the capital rose from $320.8m last year to $331.3m in the three weeks ending December 20, according to the latest data from electronic transactions processor Paymark.

Paymark, which processes over three-quarters of electronic transactions in retail, said yesterday that national spending through its network from November 30 to December 20 totalled just over $3.2 billion. That was $148.7m, or almost 5 per cent, more than the same period last year.

Nationwide, people spent less on books, electronics and sporting gear, but more on clothing, eating out and whiteware.

Spending in the floor covering and furniture category rose the most, up 20.6 per cent. Devon & Patterson flooring co-owner Malcolm Patterson said it had had a strong December so far at its Johnsonville, Kilbirnie and Tawa outlets.

"There seems to be a bit more confidence out there at the moment. It is the same pattern in all three of our stores."

There was $6.9m more spent on liquor this December, with the total up to $67m.

Wineseeker co-owner Michael Hutton said sales were up from last year at its Victoria St shop. "Definitely we are doing a fairly brisk trade in champagnes, also upper tier pinot noirs.

"There is probably a small increase in volumes but also higher spending per person. Some of the large corporates notoriously absent in spending last year have been making orders as gifts, so we have been rushing deliveries around town."

Glengarry Wines was seeing double-digit growth in sales, with its Wellington and Auckland stores busy and more people ordering online, general manager Liz Wheadon said.

"We are selling a lot of champagne this year, and we are also getting a large number of corporate gifting orders. We are having a fantastic Christmas."

Retailers Association John Alberston said the spending frenzy would only intensify this weekend.

"It will be by far the biggest [weekend of the year]. Retailers will be humming for the next two days."

THE PLANNER AND THE SCRAMBLER

The stores will be heaving today as last-minute shoppers search for that perfect gift. But, while many of us prepare to fight the crowds, a well-organised few will be putting their feet up, knowing all the presents are already under the tree. Mary Baines meets a planner and a scrambler.

John Rodgers and his family had most their Christmas presents bought and wrapped by mid-November.

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Mr Rodgers and his wife, of Stokes Valley, plan Christmas with daughter Emily, 11, in mind. They ask her months in advance what gifts she wants, and this year she's hoping for a scooter and Converse shoes.

Mr Rodgers says he used to leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, in the hope of finding a bargain, but as he has got older he has become less tolerant of busy and uncomfortable malls. "Fighting the crowds is a young person's thing."

So he has traded bargain-hunting for hassle-free convenience.

"Christmas is now about doing the things I enjoy with family. We have taken the stress right out of it."

Tony Schollum, a self-confessed last-minute shopper, is rushing to get all the presents he needs before Christmas Day.

The Kiwi living in California arrived in New Zealand on Thursday with his wife and two children to be with his mother for Christmas.

So far he had bought a gift for his mother and some presents for friends in the United States.

He has also found plenty of gifts for himself, he says, but he's yet to find one for his wife. The family have already celebrated Christmas in the US earlier in the month.

Santa visited his 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son before they travelled so they didn't have to cart the presents to the other side of the world.

- The Dominion Post

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