We're spending up

By John Maslin

With one day's shopping left before Christmas, retail spending in Wanganui is on a par with the same period last year.

According to figures supplied by Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions around the country, retail spending in Wanganui reached $31.7 million for the month up to last Thursday. That's $700,000 up on the same period a year ago.

Simon Tong, Paymark chief executive, said just over $3.2 billion went through its network between November 30 and December 20 - almost 5 per cent, or $150 million, up on the same period last year.

Mr Tong said those results should be welcome news for retailers with just one more day's trading before Christmas.

He said in the seven days to December 20, spending was up 5.8 per cent, making it one of the highest spending weeks of the year. On Thursday, total transactions surpassed the four million mark - only the sixth time that had happened since Paymark started in 1989.

Paymark said this year floor-covering and furniture stores were reporting spending growth of 20.6 per cent on last year while takings at garden centres and hardware/building supply stores were up 10.1 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively.

Not surprisingly, food and liquor retailers have reaped the benefits of the party season, with restaurants, bars and cafes enjoying 7.3 per cent more spending than a year ago. Spending at liquor retailers was up 11.5 per cent nationwide.

Lindsay Edwards, owner of Sports Edge in the Avenue, said trade had been about the same level as last year.

"The old days of that mad Christmas rush on the last couple of days went out the door when shops like Rebel Sports arrived in town," Mr Edwards said.

"We used to do huge figures on a couple of days in December, but now that's spread across much of the month," he said.

He said buyers' wants and their buying patterns had changed, "so we have to find different ways to go about our selling".

Mr Edwards said there were still a good number of shoppers around who wanted quality goods, and they were often the ones who researched the product before going shopping.

"They can test your knowledge, so you can't pull the wool over their eyes."

He said those were shoppers who generally were not afraid to spend to get what they wanted, "but there are others who would never spend that sort of money".

And some mums and dads don't mind spending a bit to make this a Christmas to remember for their offspring.

T Tamehana, a sales assistant at Leading Edge Electronics in Trafalgar Square, said the store had to reorder more remote controlled helicopters to keep up with demand. And these are the helicopters retailing for $199 each.

"Some people don't mind paying more when they know they're getting quality," Mr Tamehana said.

Also popular have been radio-controlled cars which sell for $125.

"We got a line of them on Friday, and they'd sold out by today. We've ordered more, so we're hoping they'll be here tomorrow or in time for Boxing Day."

But the best judge in terms of what children want for Christmas is still Santa Claus, and he's been putting in a few hours of a hectic schedule in Trafalgar Square these past few days.

Yesterday Mr Claus told the Chronicle the most requested No more 'last minute rush'

AERIAL ANTICS: Leading Edge Electronics salesman "T" Tamehana shows off a remote-controlled helicopter, another high on the list of little boys' "wants" this Christmas.PICTURE/BEVAN CONLEY 231212WCBRCTO01items from the kids this year were Barbie dolls, skateboards and motorbikes.

"I can tell you the elves have been very busy," he said.

It's not just the little kids who've been having a chat to the bloke in red.

"The day before, I had two sisters aged 77 and 79 up here with me because they wanted to get their picture taken with Santa," he said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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