December spending exceeds $181m

Christmas shoppers browse stores in George St, Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Christmas shoppers browse stores in George St, Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Pre-Christmas spending in Otago is up $11.2 million on last year.

The latest Paymark data, released yesterday, showed a 6.6% increase in spending in Otago (compared with 2012) for the first three weeks of December, to $181.4 million.

Nationwide, there was a 6.9% increase to just over $3.5 billion. The busiest trading day of the month was last Friday, December 20, when $235.6 million went through tills.

That was also the busiest day at Dunedin's Meridian mall, based on foot traffic data.

Manager Michael Porter said laser detectors at the mall's five entrances recorded 22,000 people entered the building that day, and about 21,000 on Saturday.

On Sunday, December 22, about 17,000 people entered the mall.

Mr Porter said Boxing Day was expected to attract about 27,000 people between 9am and 6pm - as it did last year.

The numbers were conservative, he said, because the lasers could not differentiate between one or more people walking in at the same time.

''It's a single laser beam so if two people walk in together it counts it as one. It's quite a conservative estimate, and the busier it gets, the less accurate it gets.''

Mr Porter said there was a shopping surge early in the month and retailers were experiencing a ''double hit'' immediately before Christmas, with about 20,000 people entering the mall yesterday and the same expected today.

Sundays had been much busier than last December, and Boxing Day was expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year, especially if the weather was bad, Mr Porter said.

Otago Sports Depot owner Brent Davies said sales were on par with last December.

He had employed extra staff for the Christmas rush.

''It's been pretty steady. A lot of people from Central Otago come down to shop this time of year, as well,'' he said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the ''reasonably substantial'' increase in spending was partly thanks to the many cruise ships, conferences, graduations and other events in Dunedin this month.

Hospitality and retail industries would benefit the most, he said.

''For some of those people, it will make a huge difference. They need a strong summer spend to last through quieter months.''

National increases in spending indicated consumer confidence was up throughout the country, including in Otago, which was likely a result of better job security, higher household income and a stronger economy, Mr Christie said.

Detailed analysis of retail spending at the end of the month would show whether Dunedin was in a stronger economic position than at the corresponding time last year, he said.

''We shouldn't be complacent. There's still a lot of hard work to be done.''

Christmas spending

No, that's $100 million-plus short of a new covered stadium.

$7m short

Thats $7m short of the cost of a brand new roofed stadium!

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