House and dining lure shoppers

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 09/07/2013

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Palmerston North shoppers are still eager to swipe the plastic, but only some areas of the retail economy are picking up the extra dollars.

The value of transactions through the Paymark network in Palmerston North in June was $131.5 million.

That was up 7.1 per cent from the same month in 2012, and well ahead of the national average increase of 4.6 per cent.

Canterbury led national growth, with payments up 8.1 per cent, while Marlborough was up by 7.5 per cent, with Palmerston North in third.

Paymark processes about 75 per cent of national eftpos transactions.

But while the overall trend is up, Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said some sectors were doing better than others.

"We've seen some sectors such as home decorating and hardware stores, and restaurants and cafes, thriving during the first half of this year."

That was in line with data from the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, which showed sales at hospitality businesses were up 6.7 per cent in 2012 and most business owners expected growth to continue through 2013.

However, some sectors were struggling, Mr Whiston said.

"Retailers such as travel companies and bookshops have faced significant declines [with spending] down 11.9 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively."

There had been a big fall in the number of transactions through the travel sector, but the value of transactions was high, he said.

"[This is] indicating perhaps that people are still continuing to book longer-haul travel through a physical retailer but smaller trips online."

House of Travel managing director Steve Parsons said things were busy at his Palmerston North agency, with long-haul trips proving especially popular.

"We're getting more volume to Europe for this particular year.

"It's a brilliant market for exchange rates. I'm selling European airfares cheaper than 15 years ago, which can only be good for passengers making choices."

Those cheaper prices were due to increased competition, with more flights running from Auckland direct to Europe than ever before, he said.

Travellers were taking their time in Europe, and adding on extras such as cruises or coach tours as a result.

Mr Parsons said the United States was a growth market, with Hawaii going through a boom phase.

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- Manawatu Standard

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