Rise in Christmas spending

Despite packing the shops in the lead up to Christmas, Waikato people spent only 2.9 per cent more in December than the same time last year.

New figures from electronic transaction company Paymark show shoppers spent $350.3 million in Waikato retail stores last month, compared to $340.4m in December last year.

The number of times they zapped their plastic cards was up 4.3 per cent on last year at 6.82 million.

Paymark, which processes around 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in the country, said nationally December spending was up for the third month in a row, but year on year, increased a below average 2.3 per cent to $4.7 billion compared to $4.62 in the Christmas month last year.

However Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said when the figures were adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, the growth rate was a more positive 4.3 per cent.

“The fact that there were five Sundays and Mondays during December, typically slower days of the week, compared with only four in 2011 affects the raw year-on-year comparison and sometimes doesn’t tell the full story," Whiston said.

“While we appreciate that it’s still tough out there for some retailers, the seasonally adjusted numbers paint a more realistic picture of what’s going on and reflect what we think is a encouraging finish to 2012.

"It was positive to see pre-Christmas spending up once again on the previous year, and the 13.4 per cent lift on Boxing Day was a bonus for retailers trying to entice customers through their door with great bargains.”

Whiston said national annual spending growth throughout December was high in the cafe and restaurant sector, up 7.1%, liquor retailers (+8.0%) and department stores (+6.3%).

Housing-related spending remained strong during December, as people splashed out at appliance stores (+10.3%) and hardware stores (+9.2%).

Pet shop spending lifted 7.5 per cent year on year.

Nationwide, during December, the volume of card transactions was 3.6 per cent higher than a year ago, with debit card value (+3.1%) increasing faster than credit card value (+1.4%).

“When you look at 2012 as a whole, spending through the Paymark network has risen by 3.3 per cent in value and 3.2 per cent by number of transactions,” said Whiston.

Waikato Times