Big spike in region's Christmas spending

Stockings will be so full in Palmerston North this year the jolly fat man might not need to visit. 

Spending figures, released by Paymark yesterday, show shoppers in the region spent a lavish $115.6 million on their presents through the electronic network in the first three weeks of December.

The figures show a 9 per cent increase in pre-Christmas spending in Palmerston North, compared to 2012 when shoppers spent $106.1m.

The city has the highest regional increase in year-on-year spending in New Zealand.

Paymark spokesman Paul Whiston said nationally December 20 was the busiest day of the year so far with $235.6m on the plastic card, up 5.7 per cent on the same day in 2012.

''Palmerston North, with 9 per cent year-on-year growth, is particularly strong when you relate it to the rest of the country in which the national average is 6.9 per cent, so it is well ahead of the trend,'' he said.

''It may be an indicator of the strong rural sector, maybe the farmers in the region are spending up on goods and services, but it is a very strong result.''

Mr Whiston said the figures also showed shoppers had spent the past week purchasing less expensive stocking fillers, after splurging earlier in the month.

''We've had a look at the volume of transactions, not just the value but how many times people were swiping their cards, and what we've seen in the past week is that grow to 9.1 per cent,'' he said.

''At the start of December there were really strong spending rates and they have tapered off a little from 8.6 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

''But when you look at the transaction volume at 9.1 per cent, what it would indicate is people spent up on their bigger ticket items at the start of the month.''

The Plaza centre manager Andrew Heaphy said sales results would not be in until a later date but the Palmerston North mall was full of happy shoppers.

''There seems to be a lot more shopping bags than we've seen in a long time, the retailers seem pretty happy with the way it's going, and foot traffic looks pretty good as well,'' he said.

''You're always going to have the people who go last minute and food shopping always tends to happen last minute, particularly with the perishables.

''We hope that the increased foot traffic continues.''

Mr Heaphy said late night shopping, gift wrapping and traffic management were enticing shoppers. 

Manawatu Standard