Bay of Plenty shoppers spent $410.6 million in December, an increase of 9.9 per cent compared to a year prior.

The Paymark figures for the month show just over 8 million transactions were recorded in December.

Nationally, more spending in December was done using EFTPOS/debit cards ($3,117.1 million) than with credit cards ($2,819.8 million), although the underlying annual growth in the value of spending with EFTPOS/debit cards (+2.5 per cent) is below that of credit cards (+11.2 per cent), in part due to contactless cards being offered by credit card companies.

Over all 12 months of 2016, Paymark processed 1.2 billion transactions for $57.4 billion of goods and services. The underlying growth rate for 2016 was 6.7 per cent, marking the fourth consecutive year of strong growth. This general spending growth is even more evident when transactions at fuel service stations are excluded as annual underlying non-fuel spending growth was 7.9 per cent in 2016.

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The annual underlying growth rate in December throughout New Zealand was higher in the regions away from the major cities, suggesting more time spent at the baches and beaches this Christmas. Underlying annual growth averaged 6 per cent in the three largest regions and 7.8 per cent in the other regions.

Highest annual underlying growth was recorded in Hawke's Bay (+10.9 per cent), particularly amongst Hawke's Bay merchants in sectors such as Accommodation (+20.8 per cent), Food and beverage services (+16.1 per cent), Furniture and hardware (+18.4 per cent) and Electrical and electronic retailing (+12.6 per cent).

Conversely, the Paymark-defined Marlborough region - which includes Kaikoura - experienced a 1 per cent annual underlying decline in the value of transactions. The drop amongst Marlborough Accommodation merchants through Paymark was 13.1 per cent.