Bay retailers happy as spending continues

By Genevieve Helliwell

Summer has officially ended but shoppers are continuing to part with their hard-earned cash, giving retailers plenty of reasons to smile.

Confidence appears to be returning to the Bay economy with more than $230 million being spent last month on Eftpos and debit and credit cards.

This was $2 million more than the same time last year.

Mount Maunganui restaurant and bar owner Shirley Bastin said the summer weather had played a part in her business' success.

"February was good. It was a good month in terms of cruise-ship passengers spending a bit more, and the hot weather has been good because people do want to come inside."

Mrs Bastin and her husband, Graeme, bought Latitude 37 in June last year. It's their first summer with the business and they said it had been a good one.

"It's definitely dropping a bit now as the number of tourists aren't around like they were, but things have been going very well."

Down the road, Yvonne Perry, from Neptune's Linen Chest and Gifts, said cruise-ship passengers were spending more than they did in previous years. She said the business' February figures were up on the same time last year.

The latest figures from Paymark, which processes electronic transactions throughout New Zealand, reveal 4,690,000 electronic transactions were made in the Bay during February, with the value of the spend reaching almost $239 million.

Paymark's head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, said the extra day in February this year would have made "quite a difference" to spending totals.

Nationally, Valentine's Day helped lift spending in the retail sector but the real winners last month were new and used car retailers, who recorded a 15.4 per cent increase in sales. Specialist food retailers appeared to do well, with sales increasing by 15.3 per cent, and taxi services up by 13.6 per cent.

Nosh Foodmarket owner Jo Blennerhassett said the business was up more than 15 per cent on February 2012.

Downtown Tauranga manager Kirby Weis said February had been a good month and the general feeling in the retail sector was positive. He said the summer weather brought more people out on to the streets. "That doesn't mean they're spending more but having more people in town could contribute to an increase in sales," he said.

This was the same in downtown Mount Maunganui, according to Mount Mainstreet manager Leanne Brown. She said cruise-ship passengers had spent more this summer, which was "truly excellent and a giant step forward" for Mount retailers.

According to the Paymark figures, all regions throughout New Zealand recorded some growth during February, with the exception of Gisborne, which remained static.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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