Shoppers think plastic's fantastic

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 08:00 22/12/2012
WARWICK SMITH
CHRISTMAS SPEND-UP: From left, Lance Watson, Natalie Eustace and Daniel Swagg do some Christmas shopping yesterday in The Plaza, Palmerston North.

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Palmerston North shoppers are pulling out the plastic more in the lead-up to Christmas, with more than $100 million spent in the city in the past 21 days.

Spending through the Paymark network - which monitors 75 per cent of eftpos transactions in New Zealand - hit $104.4m in the first 20 days of December in Palmerston North.

That was up 3.4 per cent - and $3.4m - on the same date range last year.

Nationally, spending was up 4.7 per cent this year to $3.28 billion.

The Plaza centre manager Andrew Heaphy said he would not get retail figures until January, so was unsure of exactly how sales were going.

But foot traffic was up and most retailers were reporting sales well above target, he said.

"We've got a lot of out-of-town people coming in.

"For a lot of people Thursday was pay day."

Thursday had been an especially good day, with extended hours and free parking helping bring in more trade, he said.

Mr Heaphy said he was confident it would only get busier.

"From now on we expect to see a surge. It's human nature to leave things [until the last minute].

"It's the busy time for us now."

Lance Watson was in The Plaza yesterday to take care of his Christmas shopping.

He said he had gone with the intention of getting all of his shopping done at once.

"It's taken a while."

He was shopping for about 12 people and said his spending habits were about the same as last year.

City council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said the increase was surprising.

"It's useful to remember that this time last year was when we were the top placing in the country for growth, so we would usually have to expect to be down.

"To be doing reasonably well after 8 or 9 per cent increases last year is actually pretty good."

Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said the growth was good news heading into the final Christmas shopping days.

"It's heartening to see the annual year-on-year growth rate building through December and climbing above the average for the year, which was around 3 per cent," he said.

Spending nationally was especially up at restaurants, bars and cafes.

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- Manawatu Standard

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