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Paymark, which processes around 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, said "record-smashing" spending on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day saw December spending up by 7.5 per cent on 2012.
The firm also recorded a strong seasonally adjusted month-on-month spending result, increasing 1.7 per cent from November to December.
The figures indicate a continued upswing in spending on the network across 2013, culminating in a particularly buoyant Christmas period.
"Following record-smashing spending on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day it is not surprising to finish on such a high in December," says Paymark head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston.
High growth in December was recorded by pet stores (+9.2 per cent), sporting/camping equipment stores (+9.3 per cent), footwear retailers (+9.2 per cent) and watch / jewellery shops (+8.7 per cent).
Double-digit year-on-year growth was seen in furniture stores (+11.5 per cent) and duty free shops (+17.3 per cent).
"A lot of sectors have showed some strong spending patterns through the month of December and many retailers will be very pleased with the results," says Mr Whiston.
It also seems New Zealanders, and tourists were out and about catching up with friends and family around the country with the hospitality sector up 9.5 per cent.
It includes a significant growth in accommodation (+11.1 per cent) in contrast to no real year-on-year growth 12 months earlier.
In terms of regional results for the month, spending was strongest in Gisborne (+9.9 per cent), Marlborough (+9.4 per cent) and Palmerston North (+9.0 per cent). However, growth rates remained low in the West Coast (+2.7 per cent) and Wellington (+3.3 per cent).
Nationwide during December, the volume of card transactions was 6.8 per cent higher than a year ago, with credit card growth (+15.2 per cent) remaining higher than debit card growth (+4.0 per cent).
During 2013, Paymark processed 986 million transactions, totalling $49.3 billion, over the 12 months. The average transaction value of $49.99 was 0.2 per cent above the 2012 average.
"For the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis we're seeing a significant increase in spending which should bring optimism for most Kiwi retailers, and hopefully we see this momentum continue into 2014," says Mr Whiston.