Christmas spending 'impressive'
Cantabrians have left it late to snap up last-minute Christmas bargains.
Paymark figures released yesterday showed the region's electronic transactions for the week ending December 23 were up $11.3 million on the same period last year.
The $152.5m spend - an 8 per cent increase - was well above the 2.5 per cent national average.
Nelson increased 0.6 per cent, Marlborough 3.6 per cent, West Coast 1.3 per cent, South Canterbury 3.3 per cent, Otago 2.8 per cent, while Southland dropped 0.9 per cent.
Auckland/Northland spending was up 1.9 per cent, while Wellingtonians proved a frugal bunch with the spending in the capital dropping 1.6 per cent on last year.
The two regions still spent more than $650m combined.
East Coast shoppers spent an additional $800,000, lifting Gisborne's average 6.9 per cent.
Paymark chief executive officer Simon Tong said Canterbury's spending growth against the other regions was impressive.
Canterbury's December increase was nearly double the national average and sales the past week more than triple.
Other areas had fallen away in the past two days, but Canterbury remained strong.
Sales at garden centres, hardware, floor covering and furniture, and department stores this month increased more than 20 per cent with last year, which was likely linked to the Christchurch rebuild.
''You have to assume there's some aspect of that in there. You're just not seeing that same level of growth across the other regions,'' Tong said.
''Canterbury has done very well against the other regions, there's no doubt.''
A 7.7 per cent increase on Boxing Day last year compared with 2010 suggested Canterbury's figures were a ''genuine increase'' rather than an improvement on otherwise low numbers.
''I'd say 2011 and 2012, based on these numbers, you've got to say a reasonable amount of the underlying growth is there. It looks pretty positive and from our point of view, it's a good result.''
The warm weather in Canterbury played its part also, Tong believed.
''[Auckland] has had rubbish weather because of the end of the cyclone. I think that does definitely affect people's moods and their desire to get out there.''
The figures suggested Boxing Day sales would be especially fruitful for retailers.
''If we're right about some of that earlier growth being down to [the rebuild], you'd assume [shoppers] would have a crack on Boxing Day too,'' he said.
Tom Rossiter, 9, was at Westfield Riccarton yesterday picking a Christmas present for his mother.
He said he did not find it too difficult choosing her a gift.
His father, Mark Rossiter, who was helping his son shop, said they decided before they went to the mall to buy "the first thing we saw".