Christmas cheer for retailers

Last updated 13:00 24/12/2013

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Last minute Christmas shopping kept stores busy in Nelson today, with the festive spend up 5.4 per cent on last year.

However, the spend has not increased as much as in many other centres.

Nelson ranked amongst the top five big spending regions with an 8.4 per cent rise in August but now it is running 10th out of the 17 regions.

Paymark electronic spending figures released yesterday afternoon show Nelson's spending increase for this month up to Saturday was a 5.4 per cent increase on the same time last year, to $69.8 million.

That languishes behind Palmerston North which leads with a 9 per cent rise year-on-year followed closely by Marlborough's 8.7 per cent and Canterbury's 7.6 per cent.

Nationally, spending through the Paymark network was up 6.9 per cent, although that had slowed from 8.6 per cent in the first week of December.

Whether that reflected better planning this year or a reliance on the the last days before Christmas would be interesting to see, said Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston.

A positive influence of higher tourist numbers and construction activity was showing through in pre-Christmas spending, he said.

Duncan Gray, owner of the Nelson and Richmond Health 2000 stores and former chairman of Nelson's inner city promotions group Uniquely Nelson, said it had been a pretty average Christmas. "That's better than the last couple of Christmases when it was a bit softer."

The current trend was for shoppers to spend more in the later half of December, so trading yesterday and today would be significant for businesses around town, he said.

He rated the 5.4 per cent lift on last year as a strong result and believed some of the higher rises in other regions would have been off a low base.

His stores in Nelson and Richmond were trading remarkably similarly. "Regionally we seem to be fairly consistent," he said. "There was some concern in the lead up to KMart opening that there would be a shift but that's not shown up in our books."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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