Tills are ringing in town

By Abi Thomas

Sleigh bells and shopping tills are ringing in Whangarei, translating into solid pre-Christmas business for retailers.

Shoppers have been braving the warm and sticky weather conditions, crowding the pavements in Whangarei's CBD, and are expected to be doing the same today.

Manager of The Strand, Merv Williams, said business was doing well and there was a positive trading atmosphere in the CBD.

Mr Williams hoped the weather would continue to play ball once the remainder of former tropical cyclone Evan passed by Northland, as the tourist dollar was also crucial to Whangarei retailers.

A late-night shopping evening in the Strand on Thursday "wasn't exactly a feeding frenzy", but shoppers appreciated the extra hours to search for those Christmas goodies, Mr Williams said.

Northland Chamber of Commerce head Tony Collins agreed that the weather, and the Christmas and school-ending dates, had a lot to do with the extra trading.

"It also ties in with our last Business Confidence Survey, which shows there's a degree of confidence out there."

Mr Collins said there were still some local businesses out there that were hurting, but overall there was a trend of slight positive growth nationwide.

Figures from Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in the country, show December spending nationwide was up 4.7 per cent on the 21 days to December 20.

In the Northland and Auckland regions combined, December spending was up 5.2 per cent on last year for an extra $65.9 million in the tills.

Sectors doing well nationally include floor covering and furniture stores, which report spending growth of 20.6 per cent year-on-year, and garden stores and hardware supply stores up 10.1 and 10.3 per cent respectively.


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