Christmas spend-up continues

Otago shoppers spent $21 million in the last few days before Christmas, an increase of 5.3% on last year.

Their enthusiasm helped the country achieve its highest transaction rate - of 148 a second at 12.24pm on Christmas Eve compared with a high of 132 a second last year.

Paymark, which processes about 75% of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, said spending was up 7.1% nationwide on Sunday and Monday. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day shopping figures will not be available until tomorrow.

Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said the final days of spending before Christmas continued a positive month of growth.

''[Monday] was recorded as the second highest spending day ever, with $235 million through the tills, and was also 42.8% up on the previous Monday,'' he said.

December 23 was a particularly strong day for a number of sectors, including sporting and camping equipment outlets, which were up 109.9% compared with the same day last week, and clothing and jewellery stores, up 78.6% week-on-week.

''Kiwis were also out gathering all the last minute essentials for their Christmas lunch, with food retailing up 81.8% yesterday on the same day last week,'' he said.

Otago's rate of spending growth, while up 5.3%, was behind Southland's (7.3%), Auckland's (6.7%), was similar to Canterbury's (5.6%) and was above Wellington's (0.3%), the smallest rate of spending growth in the country.

The highest was 11.4%, in Nelson. Nelson and Marlborough recorded the biggest regional rises in spending for December 22 and 23, at 11.4% and 11.3% respectively.

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