Cantabrians spending up on repairs, renovations

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2013

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Cantabrians are "getting on with life" and renovating and repairing their homes, the chief executive of national hardware retail chain Placemakers says.

John Beveridge was commenting on the latest data from Paymark out yesterday which showed Canterbury's spending increased faster in December, compared with the same month last year, than other parts of the country.

Paymark processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand.

Cantabrians spent $528.6 million last month - an increase of 4.6 per cent or $23.1m compared to their spending in December 2011.

That translates to each Cantabrian spending $40 on average more in December than the year before.

Nationally, housing-related spending was strong during December, as people splashed out at appliance stores ( plus 10.3 per cent) and hardware stores (plus 9.2 per cent).

Beveridge said Placemaker's Christchurch sales were "very strong" in December, recording double-digit growth for the month. Sales had started to pick up significantly in the last quarter of last year.

"Things are starting to happen in Christchurch."

Placemakers mainly sells to tradespeople, and only a small percentage of its turnover was through eftpos. Most sales were on account or for cash. Cash sales had increased "very strongly" compared to December 2011.

After two previous Christmases dogged by earthquakes and uncertainty people were more certain about the future.

"This was a good Christmas in terms of seismic activity . . . people have more certainty about their future and spending was accordingly positive," Beveridge said.

"In Christchurch that's one big construction site forming, and that's good for our business."

Christchurch was the strongest market in the country for Placemakers, followed by Auckland, then the South Island as a whole, followed by the lower North Island, which was still a bit subdued.

Better weather this summer compared to last year had also boosted DIY supplies sales. People were spending on paint, gardens and landscaping.

After two years of earthquakes Christchurch people were ready to spend a bit more positively, Beveridge said.

And the same applied for people in the rest of the country who had endured the global financial crisis and the recession for the last two Christmases.

"People are getting on with life."

Christmas was usually a time for discretionary spending and "this year the brakes came off a bit", Beveridge said.

Nationally spending also increased noticeably in cafes and restaurants (plus 7.1 per cent), liquor retailers (plus 8.0 per cent) and department stores (plus 6.3 per cent).

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In Christchurch, owner of Trevinos Restaurant and Bar and Craic Irish Bar, Marty Fuller, said he had noticed an increase in spending at both venues in December compared to the previous year.

"We saw a lot of work functions, Christmas parties and functions. I think employers had decided staff had worked hard in trying conditions."

And apart from functions, overall spending was "significantly" up on pre-quake levels, largely due to many other venues having closed due to the quakes, he said.

Ballantynes sales manager Liz Mills said she was pleased with the department store's December sales.

Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said spending through the Paymark network increased 3.3 per cent in value and 3.2 per cent by number of transactions for 2012 as a whole.

In 2012 Paymark processed 932 million transactions, totalling $46.5 billion. The average transaction value of $49.92 was 0.2 per cent above the 2011 average.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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