Boom time as shoppers flood into Bay stores

By Amy Shanks

Hawke's Bay retailers have reported a 5.3 per cent rise in sales compared with the same time last year, according to Paymark figures released yesterday.

The region fell in behind Canterbury (6.4 per cent) and Wairarapa (5.4 per cent), but ahead of Auckland/Northland up only 5.2 per cent.

It was good news for Napier, where the city centre was buzzing with tourists and locals doing their last-minute Christmas shopping.

"People are feeling incredibly buoyant, the weather helps too. It's summer and Christmas is here. People are feeling positive and obviously that is enhanced by the fact we have a cruise ship in [today], one on Sunday and two on Monday," Napier Inner City Marketing manager Meg Rodel said.

"We have run a gift-wrapping service for the past four to five years and the helpers have been a lot busier than in the past. With people picking up last minute presents and the cruise ships each day, that's certainly going to swell the crowd.

"People are definitely out buying. Long may it continue."

With new retailers Cotton On, Caroline Eve and Paper Plus drawing more attention, Hastings businesses had also noticed an upturn in Christmas shoppers.

Hastings District councillor Sandra Hazelhurst said: "Generally, the inner city retailers seem to be happy with their trade. I am not sure of the exact figures but the Hastings City Business Association Christmas promotion was a success and, judging by foot traffic, there's certainly an increase.

"Retailers are offering some amazing prices. The sales started a lot earlier this year to capture the Christmas spend."

Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, saw $3.2 billion flow through its network between November 30 and December 20. That is $148.7 million more than the same period last year.

Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said: "It's heartening to see the annual year-on-year growth rate building through December and climbing above the average for the year, which was around 3 per cent.

"During the last seven days, spending was up 5.8 per cent. This makes it one of the highest spending weeks of the year and yesterday we broke through 4 million transactions in one day for only the sixth time in our history."

Floor covering and furniture stores proved the most popular spending spots, with 20.6 per cent growth year-on-year, while garden stores and hardware/building supplies were up 10.1 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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