Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Tills ringing in post-Christmas retail splurge

Shoppers and sale bags at Sylvia Park Shopping Mall before Christmas. Photo / Janna Dixon
Shoppers and sale bags at Sylvia Park Shopping Mall before Christmas. Photo / Janna Dixon

Retailers might be enjoying a post-Christmas spending bonanza, but an economist warns the sales boom won't last forever.

Boxing Day sales figures showed a 13.4 per cent jump in spending from the same time last year.

Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions, said there were more than two million transactions and $120 million in sales - up $14.2m up from a year ago.

The company's head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said the strong Boxing Day numbers were a fantastic finish to a positive month of spending, and a return to the kinds of growth seen before the global financial crisis.

"This is the first time in five years that we've seen double digit growth and we're rapt for retailers.''

But ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the figures probably just proved that New Zealand shoppers were savvy when it came to spending their cash during sale time.

"That sort of jump tells me people have been waiting for the sales.''

Consumers still needed to get their balance sheets in order, he said.

"The new so-called normal for retailers is that shoppers are pretty price sensitive and they're going to be darting from sale to sale.''

Shoppers would continue to visit stores that had cut prices through next year, Mr Bagrie said.

There was some positive news for retailers though as next year would probably see higher spending than between 2008 and this year.

"But do I think it's going to go back to the lofty retail sales activity we were seeing pre-2007? The answer's `hell no'.''

Households still had a zero savings rate, Mr Bagrie said.

The Paymark figures showed significant growth in the electronics sector including computers and phones, with sales up 31.7 per cent annually.

There was also strong growth in clothing and apparel, and jewellery, up 20.7 per cent and 24.4 per cent respectively.

New Zealand Retailers Association spokesman Barry Hellberg said Boxing Day was an important part of the post-Christmas spend.

"Yesterday [Boxing Day] was one of the best results if the Paymark figures are correct. I'm sure retailers will be very pleased with the outcome.''

Brighter times were beginning to come through for retail, with the pre-Christmas spending figures also up from the same time last year, Mr Hellberg said.

"I think that an increase in consumer confidence coupled with the fact that people were prepared to put their money where their mouth was in the Boxing Day sales, bodes well for a good 2013 for retail.''

- APNZ

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