Waikato businesses enjoyed a consumer spending surge in December as shoppers and holidaymakers emptied their wallets.
Paymark, which processes about threequarters of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, yesterday released figures showing spending last month was up 7.5 per cent on the previous year.
In Waikato, $371 million passed through the network - a 6 per cent increase on the figure for December 2012.
Spending increased in the retail sector and, in particular, in furniture, at pet stores, duty free shops and on camping and sporting equipment.
Accommodation was also a big growth area, Paymark recording 11.1 per cent more business nationally.
Motels and hotels across Waikato have reported a surge in visitors compared with 2012.
Neil Brimblecombe, the owner of Hamilton's Barclay Motel, said it appeared people had more confidence to spend.
"We've found that we've had a better December than last year. We're seeing more families travelling and they're coming inland, rather than to the beach."
Mr Brimblecombe, who is president of the Waikato Motel Association, said many moteliers felt things were improving after a few hard years.
"It's a slow recovery, but my advice to everybody is that a slow recovery is a good recovery, because it's more sustainable."
The co-owner of Accent on Taupo Motor Lodge, Brent Burton, said his business has experienced growth in occupancy rates too.
"2011 was by far everybody's worst year - everybody was pretty miserable. In 2012 we noticed a slight increase and in 2013 it kept going. We're all fairly positive within the industry."
He said December was normally a quiet time for the lodge as most people did not travel before Christmas, but growth over the past two years indicated people may have a little bit of extra money to spend.
The owner of the Mercury Bay Holiday Park, Helena Stratford, said her business experienced a 7 per cent growth on December 2012.
Domestic visitor numbers to the Whitianga Holiday Park were up 20 per cent and international stays about 2 to 3 per cent, she said.
Paymark figures show about $5 billion was pumped through the network in December.
- Waikato Times