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Southland spending boosts confidence

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2014

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A flurry of Christmas spending resulted in an increase in business confidence in Southland.

According to Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of New Zealand's electronic transactions, spending in the region was up 7.6 per cent on December 2013.

Last month, Southlanders spent $123.5 million compared with $114.8m in December 2012.

About 2.07 million card transactions were made in 2012 compared with 2.20 million last month.

Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said the company had seen the fastest year of growth in card transactions since 2008, which included Southland.

The figures indicated a continued upswing in spending on the network across last year, culminating in a particularly buoyant Christmas period.

"Following record-smashing spending on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, it is not surprising to finish on such a high in December."

A lot of sectors have shown some strong spending patterns through December and many retailers would be pleased with the results, Mr Whiston said.

"For the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis we're seeing a significant increase in spending which should bring optimism for most Kiwi retailers, and hopefully we see this momentum continue into 2014."

Southland Chamber of Commerce president Sean Woodward said the results reflected what chamber members were seeing.

They had a busy December with good spending and 2014 had a busy start, which was positive, he said.

He believed Southlanders had held off spending but now they were seeing positive indicators such as dairy, the Christchurch rebuild and gas exploration, they were more confident.

Meanwhile, an ANZ survey has shown business sentiment in Southland is at historic highs with profit expectations in the region now at the highest since 1993.

ANZ retail and business banking managing director Fred Ohlsson said this reflected the improving confidence for small and large business across Southland.

"Construction and agriculture are caught in the tail wind of the Canterbury rebuild and increasing commodity prices. But optimism is at or near historic highs across all major sectors, paving the way for a broad-based uplift in business activity, employment and economic growth."

He said these factors had come together to create a "sweet spot" for the South Island, including Southland.

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- The Southland Times

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