Wallets open wide for Southland summer

Spending for December up from last year

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
Invercargill street
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
ON THE UP: Figures for the first two weeks of December show that Southlanders are spending more than last year.
Invercargill street
Invercargill street

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Southlanders are continuing to shop up a storm this Christmas, a fact that shows the economy in the region is improving, says the Chamber of Commerce.

Figures for December released yesterday by Paymark, which processes most of New Zealand's electronic transactions, show Southlanders are continuing to spend more than they did this time last year.

The figures show spending for the first two weeks of December is up 7.3 per cent.

Southlanders spent $54.2 million during the first two weeks of December compared with $50.5m during the same time last year.

Paymark customer relations head Mark Spicer said last Friday brought out the masses throughout the country.

This year, Friday was recorded as the busiest shopping day of the month and second busiest of the year so far.

"On Friday [nationally] we saw 3.6 million transactions pass through the network, equivalent to just over $187 million in spending."

Past trends indicate spending would continue to grow during the next week as Southlanders counted down the days to Christmas, he said.

Sectors reaping the benefits of the Christmas buildup throughout the country included accommodation providers (up 11.7 per cent), restaurants, bars and cafes (up 9.9 per cent), liquor retailers (up 10.6 per cent) and takeaways (up 10.5 per cent).

"It appears people are continuing to splash out on home DIY goods, with hardware and building supply outlets up 12 per cent year-on-year.

"Electronics retailers also showed strong gains over the fourteen-day period, up 9.1 per cent, possibly buoyed by the recent launch of gaming consoles and the strong Kiwi dollar impacting electronic goods prices," he said.

Southland Chamber of Commerce president Sean Woodward said the figures were a good result for the region.

"Business-wise the region is being doing well. Retailers had been sluggish, so it was good to see spending," he said.

He urged Southlanders to shop local, especially during the Christmas period, to maintain the lift in retail.

Commercial businesses had been picking up since the middle of the year and the rural economy seemed to be strong, he said.

"Overall business activity and retail in Southland seems buoyant". He believed there were about 60 dairy conversions in the pipeline for the region next year compared with 15 last year.

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There was potential for more positive news in all Southland industries next year with a "drill or drop" decision expected from Shell in the Great South Basin, dairy looking positive and exporters busy. Mr Woodward is a partner at Preston Russell law and said the message he had received from clients was "positive commercial activity".

People were buying businesses, raising finance to grow business and creating new business contracts.

He had been told the past two months had been busy for most accounting and law firms.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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