Healthy upswing in retail spending

Palmerston North retailers are celebrating an increase in electronic spending for May.

Spending increased by 8.5 per cent in May, ahead of the 7.5 per cent increase nationwide, according to data released this week by Eftpos firm Paymark.

Spending in the wider region was weaker, with Tararua increasing by 4 per cent and Manawatu District 1.2 per cent.

Palmerston North City Council economic policy advisor Peter Crawford said the late school holidays last year might be a factor in the weaker increase for the two districts.

He said part of the increase for Palmerston North was due to strong growth in visitor numbers.

Sterling Sport on Broadway Ave owner Will Murrie said he had seen a steady rise in business over the past year.

"There's definitely people buying more, I think there's more money out there."

"We were up last year and were up this year."

Bachari Menswear store manager Spencer West said she had noticed a positive trend in spending since she began working at the store in January.

"I'm finding people aren't as afraid to be spending."

Manawatu Chamber of Commerce chief executive Steph Gundersen-Reid said it was a positive sign for the region.

"It has been increasing over time, which has to be good for our retail. I think we're really well located for people to spend, people come from all over to Palmerston North because it's quite central. Hopefully our retailers are happy now."

Data released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand show retail spending using electronic cards increased nationwide by a seasonally adjusted 1.3 per cent in May.

"Spending rose in all six retail industries during May, the first time this has occurred since October 2013," Statistics NZ business indicators manager Neil Kelly said.

Fuel and consumables had the largest rises of the retail industries.

Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 1 per cent.

Trends for the total, retail, and core retail series have all generally been increasing since October 2002.

Spending also rose for the two non-retail industries, services and non-retail, in May, resulting in a 1.7 percent rise in the total value of transactions.

Spending continued to decline within the book, stationery, and video sector.

Paymark data shows growth among department stores nationwide, which rose 4.6 per cent.

Appliance retailers increased by 3.6 per cent and clothing shops by 2.7 per cent compared to 2013.

Paymark has reported the fastest growth in transaction volume in six years with Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Waikato and Palmerston North leading the way.

On top of this there is a growing trend towards the use of contactless cards.

The biggest jump was in the first seven days of the month, where spending was up 9.1 per cent across the country compared with the same week last year.

Paymark spokesman Mark Spicer said there were several factors behind the growth, such as a 3.5 per cent increase in the number of merchants using Paymark's network, year on year.

"In terms of other factors that might play a part in the strong spending data, May also had five Saturdays this year, whereas last year there were only four," he said.

Spicer said the rise of contactless cards continued to make its impact felt in Paymark's data, contributing to credit card spending outstripping debit cards. This was likely to continue.

Manawatu Standard