Confident shoppers opening their wallets

By Mohamed Hassan

More money was spent last month than in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Retailers expect more spending in the lead-up to Christmas.   Photo / Steven McNicholl
Retailers expect more spending in the lead-up to Christmas. Photo / Steven McNicholl

New Zealanders spent more last month than in the lead-up month to the Rugby World Cup - and there are claims that we're becoming more economically confident.

Paymark, which delivers 75 per cent of electronic transactions throughout the country, reported a 5.8 per cent growth in retail takings in August, compared with a 3.8 per cent growth the same time last year, meaning a $200 million boost in sales.

A total of $3.84 billion was spent on the Paymark network last month, compared with $3.63 million in the same month last year as thousands of tourists began to arrive to watch the World Cup in September.

The figures compare to $3.25 billion spent in August 2007, and about $3.4 billion in the Augusts of 2008-2010.

"There's definitely more money through the tills," said Paymark chief executive Simon Tong.

However he cautioned that the figures did not take into account the increasing prices of basic goods.

"If petrol prices and food prices are up significantly, then this will no doubt affect the numbers."

Last month, the price of 91 octane petrol reached a high of 227.9c a litre compared with 206.9c a year ago.

Figures from Statistics NZ indicated that while the cost of fruit and vegetables had decreased slightly, almost everything else had become more expensive.

The indicators say people are getting more comfortable with their spending, according to Mr Tong.

"When the financial crisis hit us in 2008, we put our credit cards away," he said. "But now figures are showing our use of credit cards is up 6 per cent."

Mr Tong said some areas, such as building and DIY, had increased dramatically.

The report showed 17.7 per cent and 16.4 per cent growth in plumbing retailers and wholesale building stores respectively.

A big factor was that people were finally getting debt under control, said Consumer NZ content editor David Naulls.

He added that MasterCard has reported that the percentage of people with card debts older than 90 days was dropping.

"So it shows that people are starting to feel slightly more confident."

NZ Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said the figures were "very encouraging" to retailers and businesses, especially at such a crucial time leading up to Christmas.

"People are starting to feel a bit better about themselves, and that's one thing that always drives up sales."

With interest rates flat and mortgage rates steady, people were more encouraged to spend.

"The real challenge that retailers face now is to understand our customers and what they want, and deliver it to them."

Statistics NZ said people spent an average of $13 more a week than last year.

Cashing up

Electronic spending
* $3.63 billion in August last year, a 3.8 per cent year-on-year growth
* $3.84 billion last month, a 5.8 per cent year-on-year growth

Source: Paymark figures, accounting for 75 per cent of electronic transactions

Average spending per person
* $307 a week in June last year$320 a weekthis June

Source: Statistics NZ

- NZ Herald

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