Christmas craze hits the Waikato
The Christmas craze has hit the Waikato, with shoppers spending an extra $14 million over the first week of the holiday season this year.
Electronic payment processor Paymark released figures showing shoppers across the region upped both the number and value of purchases in the first week of December when compared to last year.
Paymark processes 75 per cent of New Zealand's electronic transactions.
A total of $310m was spent by Waikato consumers as they pulled out the plastic over the seven day period, a 4.8 per cent increase from the $296 million spent at the same time last year.
An increase of 400,000 transactions brought the number recorded for the seven days to 6.4 million, a 4.6 per cent lift for the region on last year.
National spending was up 8.6 per cent for the period. Kiwis parted with an extra $277m in total for the first December week over 86 million transactions.
The $4.4 billion the country spent over the week saw purchases in hardware stores up 15 per cent compared to last year, while spending on takeaways, cafes and restaurants was also up, the results showed.
Liquor outlets saw sales lift 12.6 per cent in recent months, furniture stores had a 15 per cent increase in spend and footwear store sales were up 10.4 per cent.
Accommodation providers are up 9 per cent in revenue while sporting and camping equipment outlets also recorded strong acceleration, up 13.4 per cent year on year.
Clothing stores and recreational goods stores observed more modest increases, at 5.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.
Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said the extra spend in the first seven days of December on food and liquor was noticeable, suggesting people were keen to stock their cupboards for Christmas meals and socialise with family and friends.
"More generally, it is promising to see the higher growth rate of late continue into the first week of the busy period."
Spicer said the annual growth rate had picked up since mid-year and the level of spending would be much higher in December. Last year, December spending exceeded that of November by 16 per cent.
The increased activity and a sustained higher growth rate was encouraging, Spicer said. Last year's spending trends suggested shoppers would now shift to department stores and furniture and appliance stores, he said.
Regionally, Marlborough recorded the strongest regional growth at 10.1 per cent.
That was followed by Palmerston North at 9.7 per cent, Canterbury at 9.1 per cent and Otago at 8.4 per cent. Auckland-Northland increased by only 7.5 per cent but contributed $1.8b of the overall expenditure figure.