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Shoppers come out in force for Christmas: UPDATED

UPDATED WITH LATEST FIGURES: Wallets are open and spending is up substantially right through the Christmas period to Boxing Day compared with last year.

Figures released today by leading payments provider Paymark, confirm Kiwis have been spending up large.

Christmas Eve was Paymark’s biggest day on record with $238.4 million through the network, a whopping 18.5% up on the same day in 2012, says Paymark's head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston.

“Christmas Eve this year smashed all our records. Not only did we see the highest value through the network ever, we also saw the highest number of transactions – at 4.35 million – and the largest number of transactions per second," he says.

“To come off the back of a high like this and to also see the busiest Boxing Day that we’ve ever seen, is a hugely positive result for retailers."

Paymark, which processes around three quarters of the country's electronic transactions, saw a 12% increase in spending through its network on Boxing Day, equivalent to an additional $14.4 million in retailers’ pockets, when compared to 2012.

“Yesterday was a continuation of the growth in Boxing Day sales we’ve seen in recent years. It’s also an indication that consumer confidence is high due to the improved economy we’re seeing at present – a win-win for retailers as far as we’re concerned," Mr Whiston says.

Among the regions, Gisborne jumped the most on Christmas Eve, up almost 36% on the previous year, while on Boxing Day, Wairarapa saw an extra $200,000 injected into its local economy, an increase of 17.2% on 2012.

On Christmas Eve, food and liquor retailers (up 28%) and department stores (up 23.2%) were among the biggest winners.

“The huge queues seen at the supermarkets on Christmas Eve were certainly reflected in our stats for the day, as people rushed to get their fresh produce for Christmas lunches and dinners,” Mr Whiston says.

On Boxing Day, shoppers focused on the bargains at clothing and jewellery stores (up16.5%), appliance and whiteware stores (up 16.6%), electronics retailers (up 12%), and floor covering and furniture stores (up 17.5%). Sporting and camping equipment outlets also had particularly big days, both on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, up 20.2% and 31.8% respectively.

Earlier report: Leadup to Christmas Day
Figures collected by Paymark, an eftpos processing company, Paymark, show Christmas Eve shopping is reaching its peak.

The highest transaction rate for the year of 148 per second was recorded at 12:24pm today. This compares with 132 transactions per second in 2012, and is the highest transaction rate ever.

Paymark says spending is up 7.1% annually for the past two days (December 22-23). The head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, says Monday was the second highest spending day ever, with $235 million through the tills. It was also 42.8% up on the previous Monday.

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

Earlier, Paymark reported its network was up 6.9% in the first three weeks of December compared with last year.

Last Friday was the busiest day of the year-to-date, with $235.6 million going through the tills, up 5.7% on the corresponding day in 2012.

“Last week we saw the usual pre-Christmas jump with Kiwis spending more than $1.3 billion between December 15 and 21,” Mr Whiston says.

“This is a strong performance and growth so far for December is still ahead of the year-to-date average.

“However, the figures do point to some variances. The annual growth rate has slowed as the month has progressed, from 8.6% in the first week of December to a 6.9% average over the month-to-date.

“Whether that reflects better planning this year or a reliance on the last two days will be interesting to see.

“We are also seeing the positive influence of higher tourist numbers and construction activity coming through in pre-Christmas spending.”

Sectors showing the most growth are accommodation (11.9%), restaurants, bars and cafés (10.4%), food takeaways (10.4%) and hardware/building supplies (10.1%).

Clothing retailers and book shops are showing low growth or falling sales.

Palmerston North (9.0%) leads spending growth in the regions over the first three weeks of December, followed closely by Marlborough (8.7%) and Canterbury (7.6%).

Paymark processes around three quarters of all electronic transactions in New Zealand.