Big rise in Christmas spending

Bargain hunters led to Marlborough recording the third highest increase in spending in the country on Boxing Day, according to Paymark.

The company processes about three-quarters of electronic transactions in the country and experienced their biggest Boxing Day and Christmas Eve on record.

Their records show that shoppers in Marlborough spent $1.7 million on Boxing Day via electronic transactions such as credit and eftpos cards, up 13.6 per cent from $1.5m on the same day last year.

This added to higher spending in the region on Christmas Eve, when the amount transferred was up 18.2 per cent on last year. Marlborough recorded $3.2m on Christmas Eve this year, compared to $2.7m last year.

Paymark sales and marketing manager Paul Whiston said on Friday that Boxing Day saw a 12 per cent increase in spending around the country - an additional $14.4 million for retailers - on 2012.

Sporting and camping retail outlets were up throughout the country both days, 20.2 per cent on Christmas Eve and 31.8 per cent on Boxing Day.

Hunting & Fishing Blenheim store manager Fraser Cooper said Boxing Day was "extremely busy".

"We were busy from about 9.10am and I didn't get a chance to look at my watch until after 3pm," he said.

The top sellers included tents, camping chairs, event shades and stretchers.

Kathmandu company spokesman Paul Stern said the figures showed its Blenheim outlet had a "solid day".

Tents, down jackets, wet weather gear and camping accessories were among the most popular items.

On Boxing Day, furniture stores recorded a 17.5 per cent increase in spending, while clothing and jewellery stores were up 16.5 per cent, and appliance and whiteware stores by 16.6 per cent. Electronics retailers saw the lowest increase nationally, with 12 per cent.

Mr Whiston said the results from Boxing Day indicated consumer confidence was high due to the improved economy, which as "a win-win for retailers".

Retailers around the country hauled in $238.4 million on Christmas Eve via transactions recorded by Paymark, up 18.5 per cent on the same day last year.

"Not only did we see the highest value through the network ever, we also saw the highest number of transactions - at 4.35 million - and the largest number of transactions per second," Mr Whiston said.

For Christmas Eve, food and liquor retailers were up 28 per cent and department stores were up 23.2 per cent.

Long queues at supermarkets on Christmas Eve were reflected in the national statistics for the day as people rushed to get fresh produce for Christmas lunches and dinners.

These figures add weight to comments from financial specialists that all signs are pointing to a prosperous year in 2014.

Commodity prices are strong, businesses are at their most confident in 20 years, the economy is among the world's fastest growing, jobs and wages are predicted to rise - and all that confidence is filtering through to consumers who are starting to open their wallets.

However, the economists are also quick to warn against overconfidence, pointing out that no boom lasts forever.

The Marlborough Express