Retail growth surge highest in country

By Trevor Quinn

Wairarapa retailers have been riding a festive wave.

The latest Paymark spending figures show the region experienced the strongest year-on-year spending growth in the country during the second week in December.

Wairarapa spending was up 7 per cent, representing an additional $600,000 going through shopping tills, compared to 2011 figures for December 6 to December 12.

The rise in spending was almost double that for the growth in Auckland during the same period, which was 4.1 per cent.

After Wairarapa other notable spending increases were recorded in South Canterbury (6.2 per cent) and Canterbury (6 per cent), which continued a post-earthquake recovery.

Chief executive officer of the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce Stephanie Gundersen-Reid said the announcement was a major boost for Wairarapa.

"I think it's marvellous for our retailers and it's a sign that maybe people are feeling more confident about using their discretionary dollar in our region."

She said the news was hugely encouraging ahead of the pre-Christmas rush.

"There are a lot of people out and about and it's busy and people are also shopping locally which is fantastic. A lot of bigger retailers have moved into the area in recent times and that has helped as people don't have to travel to the bigger cities."

Pamela McInnarney, of Cookware Essentials, in Kuripuni, said the store had been trading well in the lead-up to Christmas.

And other specialty shops in the village were also busy.

Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said he was pleasantly surprised Wairarapa topped the spending list.

"When you think of Christmas spending you think more of largely populated areas and high streets but that's not to say that there's not good numbers of farmers and winemakers in Wairarapa who maybe have some extra money in their pockets."

Mr Whiston said the upward trend comes at a good time for retailers in Wairarapa.

"Preparations for the busiest week of the year are in full swing, and retailers will be looking to past trends as an indication of what's to come. Based on historical data, we can expect spending through the Paymark network to rise another 33 per cent by the week ending December 24."

Paymark, which processes around three-quarters of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, saw just over $1billion pass through its network in the seven days between December 6 and 12.

Spending growth was high at hardware and building supplies outlets (8 per cent), appliance stores (12.7 per cent) and floor covering and furniture retailers (26 per cent), - all outlets linked to the housing market. In contrast, spending was slightly down in the clothing, apparel and jewellery sectors.

Spending figures for entertainment and Christmas celebrations were also positive. Spending for the week was up 7 per cent among restaurants, cafes and bars, and up 9.3 per cent among liquor retailers.


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