Christmas crowds spend up large

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 14:26 09/12/2013
wallet
READY TO SPEND: The Christmas crowds have come to into Palmerston North's city early, and with their wallets open, retail spending statistics show.

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The Christmas crowds have come to into Palmerston North's city early, and with their wallets open, retail spending statistics show.

The city has had the second largest increase in November spending in New Zealand, according to figures released today by Paymark.

Paymark processes about 75 per cent of electronic transactions in New Zealand.

The figures show an increase in overall spending with electronic cards up 9.7 per cent on the same time last year, from $132.4 million in November 2012 to $145.2 million in November 2013.

The increase is second only to Malborough, which had an increase in spending of 10.1 per cent.

They are above Canterbury on 9.1 per cent and well above the national average increase of 6.8 per cent.

There was also a 7.4 per cent increase in the number of individual items purchased in November, from 2.5 million in 2012 to 2.7 million in 2013.

The Plaza manager Andrew Heaphy said there had been far more people in the mall than usual ahead of the Christmas rush.

The increase in spending was not surprising given the anecdotal evidence that storeowners were giving him.

"People just seem to be carrying more bags. Everyone in the stores that I have spoken to has been really happy with the way the busy season has started, so let's hope it's good signs.

"We're putting on a lot of staff to control it, the security and the people helping with parking, as a service to our customers, because we know this time of year it gets pretty stressful."

Paymark spokesman Mark Spicer said the increase in spending shows that momentum is building towards the final Christmas countdown.

"The annual growth rate has picked up since mid-year and we know the level of spending activity will be much higher in December. Last year, for instance, December spending exceeded November by 16 per cent. So to already see both a step up in level of activity and a sustained higher growth rate is very encouraging."

Hardware stores spending was up 15 per cent nationally on last year, takeaways 9.7 per cent and cafes and restaurants 11.4 per cent.

There was also an acceleration of spending at liquor outlets, 12.6 per cent up on this time last year, furniture stores, 15 per cent, footwear stores, 10.4 per cent and accommodation providers 9 per cent.

"The extra spend in the first seven days of December on food and liquor has been noticeable this year, suggesting people are keen to stock their cupboards for Christmas meals and socialise with family and friends.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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