A Christmas spending slump failed to deter from an increase in shopping in the Bay of Plenty last month.

Paymark data released today revealed Bay shoppers spent $422 million in December, an increase of 1.2 per cent on the year before. This equated to 8.59m transactions, a 2.8 per cent increase from the year before.

The data showed a total of $6 billion was spent nationally through the Paymark network for the month, with a total of 120.7m transactions - 2 per cent more than in December last year.

By comparison, the value of transactions did not grow at all in the Auckland/Northland area. The fastest annual growth in spending occurred away from the major centres in Wanganui (6.6 per cent), Palmerston North (5.8 per cent) and Southland (5.7 per cent).

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Paymark's head of e-commerce, digital experience and marketing Darren Hopper said the figures showed an interesting trend in the payments' landscape and spending growth overall was "slow".

"Paymark transactions reached new highs before Christmas and over the month in general but figures also point to several pressures on merchants," he said.

"The annual growth rate was generally low and below the rate of the recent months that would have shaped retailer expectations. We also saw widespread discounting which appears to have accelerated the trend towards lower average transaction value. There continues to be growing use of scheme credit and debit cards which adds to the bank fees paid by merchants. And, to further pressure the bricks and mortar merchants, e-commerce growth has accelerated of late."

Hopper said there were also many sales, starting back on November 23 with Black Friday "and this may have pushed the average transaction value lower as well, although this is difficult to see in Paymark figures as only the total transaction value is recorded".

"There may have been more, or fewer, items than usual within each transaction as well."

The busiest day of 2018 recorded by Paymark before Christmas was December 20, with $296m worth of transactions processed.

What people spent their money on varied.

Toy retailers recorded 11.3 per cent higher spending through Paymark December to December. Also relatively strong were hardware and home decorating stores (6.1 per cent) and chemists (5.5 per cent). Spending growth on food and liquor was high relative to other merchants, including amongst supermarkets and liquor stores (3.9 per cent) and restaurants, bars and cafes (6.3 per cent), although both sectors experienced growth rates below those of recent months.

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Spending declines occurred for accommodation merchants (-2.5 per cent), as well as amongst the above-mentioned electrical and electronic group of merchants (-19.9 per cent) and by clothing and footwear merchants (-4.7 per cent).