A $6.4 million increase in Christmas spending this year
suggests the Otago economy may be on its way out of the
Paymark figures released on Christmas Eve showed Otago
residents spent $176.5 million in the region for the 21 days
ending December 23, up from $170.2 million (3.7%) for the
corresponding time last year.
Across the country, spending was up 3.4% ($112.3 million)
year-on-year for the 21 days ending December 23.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie
believed the figures signalled the economy was rejuvenating.
''It reflects the optimism and the mood of the customers who
are out there spending again.
''It's a positive trend.
''My only hope is that [the increase] was not because people
were spending beyond their means like they did a couple of
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said the steady growth
demonstrated New Zealanders had been organised with their
shopping this year.
Figures showed more than $1.3 billion went through New
Zealand tills in the week before Christmas. In the two days
before Christmas, the spending growth rate decelerated
slightly to become more in line with the average growth rate
over the past 11 months, he said.
''This suggests that while spending is still up annually,
many were avoiding taking the last-minute shopping approach
in the final days before Christmas.''
Paymark, which processes about 75% of all electronic
transactions in New Zealand, also saw particularly strong
year-on-year growth in Canterbury and Gisborne in the 21 days
ending December 23, up 6.6% and 4.3% respectively.
''Canterbury has really steam- ed ahead of the other regions
in terms of spending growth in the lead-up to Christmas.''
Southland did not fare so well, with a $200,000 (-0.3%) drop
in spending in the same timeframe.