Record-breaking festive-season shopping figures are a "light at the end of a tunnel" for retailers after a bleak few years.
Figures released by Paymark, the organisation which processes most of New Zealand's electronic transactions, show Boxing Day spending in Southland was at its highest since figures were first recorded in 2007.
Southland Chamber of Commerce vice-president Carla Forbes said the figures were a light at the end of the tunnel for retailers.
"Across the board, it's a sign of a really upward trend.
"People are starting to regain some confidence," she said.
A total of $3.3 million was spent in the Southland region on Boxing Day, an increase of 11.7 per cent on 2012 spending, while Christmas Eve spending jumped 14 per cent, increasing from $5.5m last year to $6.2m in 2013.
Southland's increasing silly-season splurge follows the trend of most other regions in New Zealand.
Nationally, Christmas Eve was Paymark's biggest day on record, with $238.4m spent through the network and 4.35 million transactions logged throughout the day.
Another $134.4m was spent nationally on Boxing Day, the figures show.
Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said that, although some of the spending increase could be attributed to a hike in prices, it also showed consumer confidence had increased.
Southland was one of several smaller regions in which spending had increased massively this year.
While he could only speculate as to the causes behind the regional growth, Mr Whiston suggested the strong rural sector had helped buoy economic confidence in rural areas such as Southland.
However H & J Smith chief executive John Green said it paid to view the Paymark figures with a grain of salt.
The increase could be because of a progressive uptake of people using eftpos cards and electronic payments compared with previous years, he said.
Overall, trading was solid and on par with last year, he said.
"I think most retailers would be happy."
Whitcoulls Invercargill manger Pam Hamilton said that, while she could not comment specifically on whether trade had increased this year, it was definitely "very busy".
More shoppers had been coming in with gift cards after Christmas than previous years, she said.
"It seems like nearly every second person has one."
Raw Energy clothing store employee Hanna Reid said Boxing Day in particular had been extremely busy.
"Our manager said it was definitely up on last year."
"We were totally rushed off our feet."
BY THE NUMBERS
Southland Boxing Day sale spending through the years
2007 – $2m
2008 – $2.6m
2009 – $2.5m
2010 – $2.5m
2011 – $2.8m
2012 – $3m
2013 – $3.3m
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.