In first 14 days of December Kiwi shoppers spent $2.3 billion, an increase of 4.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2013, when shoppers spend $2.2 billion.
The total number of transactions for the two weeks was 46.7 million, compared with 43.9 million in 2013.
In 2013, Friday December 13 was the busiest shopping day of December, and the second busiest day of the year, with spending continuing to climb and peaking on Christmas Eve.
Paul Whiston, Paymark head of sales and marketing, said that the first 14 days of December showed a steady start to Christmas spending, with two more busy weekends to come.
He said that the annual growth rate, excluding fuel, is a solid 5.7 per cent, despite lower fuel prices impacting on overall spend.
In the entertainment and hospitality sector, which includes cafes, bars and accommodation, spending is up nine per cent on the same period last year, said Whiston.
“This may reflect the annual Christmas celebrations being particularly buoyant but we’ve seen consistent growth in this sector throughout 2014. It may also be due to an increase in domestic and international tourism in places such as Nelson and Otago where growth is strong.”
The results of consumer spending in December need to be taken in context, said Whiston.
“We know from Met Service figures that it’s been the coldest start to summer since 2006 which may influence shopping behaviour. Additionally, an increasing number of retailers are starting their Boxing Day sales before Christmas. This may result in an increase in the number transactions we’re processing but the value may be slightly lower.”
Over the past 14 days, spending at supermarkets is up 7.9 per cent compared with 2013, with spending at stores related to building and housing up 7.2 per cent, and books and video up six per cent.
Clothing, apparel and jewellery is slower, with an increase of 1.3 per cent.
Spending in Nelson during the 14 day period was up 7.7 per cent, Otago up 7.2 per cent, Bay of Plenty up 5.2 per cent, and Auckland/Northland up five per cent.
Regions that had a slower start to December were Wellington, Taranaki, the West Coast, Southland, and South Canterbury.