Cantabrians on a spending spree

Cantabrians are loosening the purse strings with hardware and garden supplies stores amongst those reaping the benefits.

Statistics New Zealand published retail sales figures for the last three months of 2012.

They show that each person in the region, where there are about 560,000 people, spent about $85 more in the last three months of 2012 than in the previous three months.

And consumers are spending a lot more than they were a year ago. The data reveals each person in the region spent on average $290 more in the last three months of last year than they did in the last three months of 2011.

Retail sales in Canterbury in the last three months of 2012 amounted to almost $2.45 billion (seasonally adjusted), 2 per cent higher than in the September quarter.

Statistics New Zealand said that across the nation hardware, building and garden supplies sales rose strongly in the December 2012 quarter, "again boosted by high sales in Canterbury".

However, the main reason for the national rise in retail sales by 1.7 per cent from the September quarter was the relentless rise in the cost of petrol.

Oderings director Aaron Odering said sales were up last year in Canterbury but were a bit patchy in parts of the North Island.

Trade in Christchurch had been very good.

Odering said there is a lot more certainty in Christchurch now and with house prices holding up and houses being repaired or rebuilt, customers seemed to have more confidence.

Some customers had been holding off investing in their garden because they thought tradespeople might damage plants when repairing houses, but others were not.

"I have heard some people after waiting are just going ahead with it in any case because they are tired of waiting."

No water restrictions had also played a strong part in boosting sales in Christchurch this summer, Odering said.

Rick Hellings, chief executive of South Island department store chain Smiths City, said he would expect December quarter sales to be higher than September because a lot more housing and renovation work were done in summer.

"We are definitely seeing things recover well in Christchurch. We have low unemployment and workers who are coming into the city so you would expect to see Christchurch and Canterbury up."

Their stores in the lower North Island were not enjoying the stronger sales of the South Island.

The Press