Shoppers spend up as beach ruled out

By Kiri Gillespie

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Local retailers had a good January with poor weather believed to be responsible for sending people into the shops.

Paymark figures released this week showed the Bay of Plenty experienced a 3.2 per cent increase in eftpos transactions compared to January last year.

Last year, $257.8 million was spent in January compared to $266.8 million this year.

The rise is reflected across New Zealand with the country's retailers experiencing an average 3.5 per cent boost last month.

Mount Mainstreet manager Leanne Brown said retailers she had spoken to told her January had been a good start to the year.

"I believe that the weather probably worked in favour for retailers in the whole region because it wasn't conducive to spending hours at the beach.

"I believe it probably brought people in to the shopping area," Ms Brown said.

"The weather, events and the cruise ships and probably in a roundabout way the Rena probably brought people into town to have a look."

So far this summer 22 cruise ships have docked at Salisbury Wharf.

Kirby Weis, of Mainstreet Tauranga, said city retailers noticed a slight increase in customers and he also believed the lack of sunny days was responsible.

"Sometimes it's overcast weather that drives people into the CBD to do some shopping. People have to look at other ways to entertain themselves or spend their time," Mr Weis said.

Bayfair Shopping Centre marketing manager Nina Rivett said there was a 6.2 per cent increase in visitors to the centre compared to January 2011.

"In fact growth in the numbers of shoppers choosing to visit was experienced over 22 days out of 31."

Paymark's Paul Whiston said there was an increase in spending on house-related products.

"Consistent with some other early signs of improvement in the housing market, spending amongst building-related merchants via Paymark was up 5.1 per cent in comparison to January 2011. The level of activity amongst this group is still relatively low but this annual growth rate betters any experienced last year.

"This could indicate that in spite of the patchy weather Kiwis have stepped up DIY around their homes or called in the experts - in particular plumbers, who enjoyed a 17.5 per cent year-on-year increase this January."

Other sectors that fared well during the month were footwear (up 7 per cent), auto repairs (9.2 per cent) and the travel sector (4.6 per cent).

Palmerston North had an 8.7 per cent increase in January spending - the highest in the country. Canterbury was the only region to experience lower sales with spending down 1.9 per cent.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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