This week will be the busiest week of the year for many merchants, says Paymark
The company, which processes more than three-quarters of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, said spending for many merchants would be more than twice the weekly average.
For most the busiest seven days of the year would end either on Friday or Saturday.
Last year, underlying spending in the seven days ending Christmas Eve was 53 per cent above the average seven-day spend during the earlier months of January to October across the Paymark network.
Not all have exactly the same seasonal pattern, it said.
The doctors' and dentists' seven-day peak last year ended earlier than most, coming on December 19 and 20, respectively, while taxis hit a peak earlier in the month.
For electronic and footwear stores, the peak seven days ended on Boxing Day, which showed the importance of that day for those merchants.
The peak for accommodation providers was the last seven days of the year.
Garden centres, florists, drycleaners and travel companies had peaks at other times of the year.
However, for the majority, including a wide cross section of merchants such as supermarkets, petrol stations, department stores, rental cars, vets, hairdressers and cafes, the peak seven days was expected to be this week.
Spending through Paymark for the seven days to Sunday December 17 was $1.44 billion, up 7 per cent on the previous week.
Relative to last year, the underlying growth rate of 5.8 per cent was slightly below the average growth rate recorded to date for 2017 and below that of the strong early Christmas sale period.
This showed as the ratio of pre-Christmas spending to spending earlier in the year being slightly lower than this time last year, Paymark said.
"However, this may well represent a relative respite before the very busy Friday and Saturday ahead, such is the fall of weekdays this year."
The influence of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake showed in the regional spending statistics, with annual underlying growth strongest last week in Marlborough (18.8 per cent), including Kaikoura in Paymark figures, and weak in Canterbury (3.4 per cent), South Canterbury (3.5 per cent) and Nelson (3.9 per cent). it said.
There was a spending growth bias towards the smaller regions and away from the major centres, with below-average growth in Auckland/ Northland (4.4 per cent) and Wellington (5.1 per cent).