Hamilton businesses lifted by Christmas rush

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
hamilton shoppers christmas
PETER DRURY/FAIRFAX NZ
SPENDING UP: Shoppers in Centre Place Mall, Hamilton, hunt for Christmas presents.
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Waikato's Christmas shopping rush is on with spending up for the region compared with this time last year.

Paymark, which processes all but a quarter of electronic transactions in New Zealand, yesterday released figures showing about $159.5 million was spent in Chiefs country since December 1.

Nationally, Kiwis spend more than $2.2 billion the first two weeks of the month.

Waikato's is the fourth highest regional spend in the country, behind only Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington.

All up, spending is 6.3 per cent higher so far for December this year than it was last year, slightly below the national average of 7.7 per cent.

Friday the 13th brought good luck for most retailers around the country, with 3.6 million electronic transactions raking in $187m - the second highest spend of any day this year.

So far spending is highest on food, restaurants, health, beauty and clothing.

Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Sandy Turner said the figures were very much in line with what the organisation had been hearing from central-city retailers.

"It's made everybody feel extremely optimistic and, if the figures continue and the dollar spend continues, we're going to have a really bumper Christmas this year.

"There's generally just a much better, positive feeling from our retailers. You can always tell when they are feeling that it's because the tills are ringing."

She said feedback from city retailers indicated part of the increase could be because of the revival of the Christmas work party, neglected in the past few years owing to the global financial crisis.

"Definitely the feedback I'm getting from the hospitality precinct, you know, the restaurants, bars even the accommodation providers, is that they've actually seen a huge uplift in businesses actually celebrating with a Christmas work shout and Christmas parties."

Ms Turner said the reopening of Centre Place brought "real life and vitality" back into the CBD, which had enjoyed a huge rise in foot traffic, although the upsurge in spending on Black Friday was a mystery.

"Usually it's the last two weeks . . . that everybody goes crazy.

"There's no rationale that we can think of except that it was a Friday."

Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said the figures showed New Zealand was well on track to match last year's Christmas spend.

"Last December we processed a total of $4.5b in value so where we are at this point we're well on track to meet that.

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"I think it's a reflection of real positive activity in the retail space in terms of sales and it is entirely consistent with this time of year."

He said the latest figures topped off a good year for retailers.

"It has been a good one, the figures are telling us that. What we've seen over the first 11 months of the year is a 5.7 per cent average spend increase."

"Now they're good figures."

- Waikato Times

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