Tool shops feel spirit as spending soars

By Brendan Manning - APNZ


With Christmas fast approaching, Bay of Plenty consumers are heading to their local hardware store in search of the perfect gift.

Figures from Paymark - which processes 75 per cent of the country's electronic transactions - show a slight rise in spending nationwide during November.

Year-on-year spending is up 4.6 per cent, and up 1 per cent from October. Purchases at hardware stores however, are up significantly - with a 10.4 per cent year-on-year increase.

Tauranga Tool Shop manager Ryan Plank said trade had been noticeably busier this Christmas season than in previous years.

"November was a good month. It's our busiest time of year. December's always a big retail month trying to keep up with everyone buying presents.

"In Christmas, it's quite noticeable that the people who are buying are buying as gifts, as opposed to throughout the year when you have people buying for the trade and to replace tools.

"You get a lot of people buying for other people so they are looking for gifts and things like that."

Hand tools, socket tool sets and cordless drills were always popular, Mr Plank said.

"It's more of the lower value sets as opposed to individual tools.

"The wives might come in and buy [their husbands] something that they've wanted like a bandsaw ... like a special present."

The Paymark figures are evidence the festive season is upon us. Spending at cafes and restaurants is up 9.3 per cent and liquor retailers enjoyed a 10 per cent surge.

Paymark spokesman Paul Whiston said the increase in pre-Christmas spending followed the same pattern of recent years.

"We have seen the usual lift in spending from mid-November and the last seven days of the month were up 10.4 per cent as compared to the last seven days of October.

While this shows an improvement on recent months, the increase can in part be attributed to November this year having one more Friday than November in 2011."

Despite the buoyant figures, some retailers were still finding it tough, Mr Whiston said.

"Based on historic figures, we expect the real rush is yet to come. Between 2007 and 2011 spending jumped an average of 27 per cent from November to December as Kiwis ramped up their card usage in anticipation of Christmas."

Other sectors to experience a lift above the 4.6 per cent national average included automotive outlets (up 7.9 per cent) and clothing shops (up 6.5 per cent).

This was perhaps fuelled by those looking for the perfect Christmas party outfit, Mr Whiston said.

"It's great to see Kiwis getting into the Christmas spirit and spending across a diverse range of sectors. We

hope to see retailers reaping the benefits in the coming weeks."

Waikato enjoyed the highest regional growth in spending between November 2011 and last month (up 6.5 per cent), followed by Canterbury (up 5.7 per cent), which had been leading the charge since June.

NZ Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said the figures were encouraging.

There was already good feedback from retailers, though this year would not be a "huge bonanza".

"Cautiously optimistic might be the way to put it.

"It's positive, but it's not the sort of stuff you're going to go out and dance naked in the street [over]."


November spend

Bay of Plenty:

2011: 4.92m transactions, $251.1m spent

2012: 5.08m transactions (up 3.2 per cent ), $257.6m spent (2.6 per cent increase)

Nationally:

2011: 76.87m transactions, $3.902b spent

2012: 80.8m transactions (up 5.1 per cent), $4.082b (up 4.6 per cent) Source: Paymark

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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