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Pre-Christmas spending splurge higher this year

Seasonal spending ahead of Christmas has been higher so far this year compared to the same period last year.

Spending from mid-November, the starting point is calculated as 42 days prior to Christmas, to December 7 was 5.6 per cent higher in underlying terms than the same period last year, according to Paymark.

The payment company has processed 106 million transactions, or $5.03 million, over the past 25 pre-Christmas days.

The fastest growth occurred outside of the major centres, including in Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough.

Paymark data showed the big Black Friday sales have been the key event so far, with spending up more than 10 per cent among non-fuel merchants on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the sales weekend. Even higher growth was recorded among core retail merchants selling non-food goods.

Spending has steadied a little in recent days. Spending on December 7, 2019, was up only 2 per cent on Saturday last year for non-fuel merchants, but down on Friday and Saturday among the non-food core retailers.

“Nonetheless, the pattern is set for another big week this week, total spending levels expected to approach Black Friday levels this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then even higher the following week,” according to Paymark.

A recent survey from global comparison site Finder, however, showed about 65 per cent of New Zealanders are planning to spend less on gifts this Christmas. 

Finder’s survey of 2117 Kiwis showed around 31 per cent of respondents will set a spending limit with loved ones, while 12 per cent will make gifts by hand. One in ten (9 per cent) will opt for Secret Santa and only buy for one person rather than several.

Angus Kidman, Finder’s global editor-in-chief, said that more Kiwis are choosing to limit the financial onslaught of the festive season.

“The cost of Christmas presents can really pack a punch, especially if you’re buying for multiple people,” he said.

“There’s nothing worse than having to splash out on gifts for friends and relatives you hardly see. If you’re stressed about money this year, don’t feel obliged to play Santa.”

According to Finder’s data, re-gifting (5 per cent) and buying second-hand presents (5 per cent) are other popular ways Kiwis will be cutting back on costs this Christmas.

Women (16 per cent) are twice as likely as men (8 per cent) to make gifts by hand. Over a third of women (36 per cent) will set a price limit with family and friends, compared to just 25 per cent of men.

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