Waikato shoppers spending close to home

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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Waikato people notched up the second highest spend in the country last month as Hamilton retail development continued to stop shoppers straying up the highway to Auckland.

The dollar spend in the Waikato last month was 7.6 per cent up on January last year at close to $303 million, according to latest figures from electronic transaction service Paymark.

This was just a whisker behind a Canterbury spending increase of 8 per cent, which topped the country.

The number of over the counter transactions in the Waikato was 8.1 per cent up on January 2012 at $6.32m, said Paymark.

Retailers' Association northern regional manager Russell Sinclair said the figures reflected retail growth in the Waikato, particularly in Te Rapa (The Base), and the influence of the dairy industry.

Anecdotal reports from the region were that people from towns outlying Hamilton, such as Te Awamutu and Huntly, were shopping closer to home instead of south Auckland or Auckland city.

The Wairarapa came in third for increased spending last month, posting a 5.6 per cent rise year on year.

Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said January not only brought out the sunshine, but a positive start for many retailers nationally.

The total value of card swipes through the Paymark network increased $191m nationally to nudge $4 billion, a 5.1 per cent rise year on year, he said.

The value of spending increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent from December to January, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

Paymark processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions.

But Mr Tong said it was still tough going for some retailers.

Sectors such as the accommodation industry and consumer electronics retailers had experienced below-average growth, he said.

Spending growth overall was weak on the West Coast of the South Island, and in Southland.

Retailers with links to the building industry continued to post strong growth, Mr Tong said.

Plumbing outlets did 17.8 per cent more transactions, hardware and home decorating stores 11.6 per cent, and gardening outlets showed 7.6 per cent growth.

Wholesale building supply stores recorded 7 per cent more business than in January 2012.

The new year also saw an increase in Kiwis heading for outlets serving the health sector, Paymark said.

Spending at dentists was up 17.2 per cent, medical centres 10.1 per cent, optometrists 9.1 per cent and pharmacies 6.3 per cent.

Car-owners also spent up this summer, with repairs and servicing outlets showing a 14 per cent increase in spending in January year on year, and parts and accessories operators a nearly 10 per cent rise.

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Payments by card increased by $1.5b in 2012 and nationwide in January, card swipes increased 6.3 per cent on a year ago.

- Waikato Times

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