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Spirited start to Christmas spending

Christmas present, 409According to Paymark, which has over 100,000 terminals covering 75 per cent of the New Zealand retail landscape, the Christmas spending season has started strongly across the country.

Nationally, the volume of transactions on its network during the period not only increased by 8.5 per cent versus last year, but the value of those transactions also increased by seven per cent.

Paymark CEO Mark Rushworth said the volume of traffic suggests the early rise in volumes bodes well for the Christmas retail season.

“Traditionally Kiwis have waited until a little later in the month to do their Christmas shopping, but the advent of online retail means we’re seeing traffic volumes increase a little earlier than has been the case in the past. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues in the future.”

The company said it processed 720,000 transactions worth $32.7 million in Hawke’s Bay during the first week of December. That represented an 11.3 per cent increase in the volume of transactions compared to the same period last year, while the value of the transactions was also up eight per cent.

Hawke’s Bay had the biggest increase among the five areas that recorded double-digit transaction growth between December 1-7, ahead of Gisborne (10.9 per cent), Marlborough (10.3 per cent),Otago (10.3 per cent) and Palmerston North (10.3 per cent).

Auckland and Northland are the strongest regions, but the fastest growth was seen across the smaller regions such as Hawke’s Bay, while the slowest growth was experienced in Waikato, West Coast and Taranaki regions – all strong dairy regions.

“Whether this means dairy price fluctuations are hitting the retail market in those areas or not remains to be seen but certainly in comparison with the rest of the country growth is noticeably lower, and in Taranaki we see a decline in year on year value with only a modest growth (half a per cent) in terms of volume,” said Rushworth.

Breaking down the figures by market sector, growth is strongest in liquor (+9.4 per cent), fast food (+14.9 per cent), clothing and footwear (+9.2 per cent), furniture and hardware (+10.6 per cent), recreational (+11.6 per cent), accommodation (+18.6 per cent), restaurants and cafes (+12.2 per cent) and hairdressers (+15 per cent).

Conversely, transactions were down amongst farm supply (-12 per cent), travel (-1.3 per cent) and fuel (-3.8 per cent).

Credit card growth remains strong at 8.4 per cent, in part reflecting the usage patterns inherent at this time of year.

“The vast bulk of NZ’s retail transactions travel across Paymark’s network so we have a good view of the retail sector. While the figures don’t replace the Statistics NZ retail sales figures they are a good proxy for spending patterns in NZ, something that’s of great value to retailers at this busy time of year,”  concluded Rushworth.

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