Spending up in South despite national dip

Arrowtown's annual autumn festival was proving popular with visitors yesterday. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
Arrowtown's annual autumn festival was proving popular with visitors yesterday. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
Otago and Southland were among several regional areas around the country whose retailers benefited from increased sales during Easter, despite an overall national dip in spending.

Paymark card transaction data for the week ending last Monday measured a 0.8% decline in spending, to $1.19billion, compared with the same week a year ago.

However, the $1.19billion spending for Easter this year was up 4.6% compared with Easter last year, which started in late-March last year.

Otago spending increased 7.1% to $76.6million, Southland gained 6.2% to $30.3million, the West Coast rose by 22.6% to $10million, Marlborough was up 14.5% to $17.7million and Gisborne up 119.6% to $11.7million.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said it appeared the Paymark data ''favoured'' destination areas in the regions, such as Otago, the West Coast and Marlborough.

''They were all batting well above the national average ... people were staying for the full week,'' he said.

A potential week off was because of the ''overlap'' of Easter and Anzac day this year meaning workers could take three days' leave and have up to 10 days off work.

Paymark said over the week most of the regional increases were businesses in grocery, liquor, fuel and hospitality; collectively up 15.7%, or $43million, excluding the three largest Paymark regions.

Those merchants in the three largest regions chalked up only a 2.1%, or $7million, gain.

Among merchant groupings, spending between the Easters was up most strongly among clothing and footwear stores, up 13.8%, and liquor retailers who had a 9.9% gain.

''Both the shift in regional spending and the overall spending decline are not unusual for Easter,'' Paymark said.

Spending historically swings from the busy Easter Thursday - the busiest day apart from December 6 - which was this year up 44% in underlying terms to to $263million, compared Easter Thursday last year, while there were the expected sharp declines on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Mr McGowan said while Easter trading in the Queenstown Lakes district was ''wide open'', he noted there were closed periods in Dunedin.

''You wonder how Dunedin [retailers] would have done if open on Easter Sunday,'' he said.

Of the 17 Paymark regions, five reflected a decline in spending.

Auckland-Northland was down 6% to $454.1million and Canterbury down 7% to $125.1million

On retailing in general, Mr McGowan said with mortgage interest rates already in decline, that could free up houshold cash

''It's likely the big ticket household items will be starting to move,'' he said of whitewear, appliances, technology and televisions.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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