It's a ho-hum Christmas for New Zealand shops, with the amount Kiwis spending through Paymark's network barely up on this time last year.

Paymark says despite a strong pick-up in the latter part of the Christmas shopping period, the start of December was flat.

The payment terminal firm put that down to Black Friday, the American-imported shopping event in November where retailers offer big discounts on electronic goods.

Paymark, which processes 75 per cent of the country's electronic card transactions, said during the first 23 days of the month spending was up 1 per cent (excluding what Kiwis paid for fuel) on the same period in 2017.


The busiest shopping day this year was on December 22, where 182 transactions were processed per second at one point during the day.

That's up from the previous peak of 177 per second around the same time last year, Paymark said.

While Christmas Eve is normally the busiest spending day of the year, it is usually trumped by the weekend if it falls on a Monday.

Kiwis spent the most last Thursday (December 20), when they dished out $296 million during the day.

"Over the weekend, gift buying continued aplenty but food and liquor spending took on a greater prominence," Paymark said.

"Spending on food and liquor was up 32 per cent on the prior weekend as we stock up for Christmas and hopefully some time off before New Year. Kiwis spent a total of $130.5m on the food and liquor category this weekend, with more to come today," the firm said.

Overall spending was up by the most over the weekend in Palmerston North, where Kiwis splurged $12.8m (up 8.6 per cent on last year).

Spending was also well up in Otago, Wellington and Canterbury.


Spending in Auckland & Northland over the weekend was up 2.9 per cent on the same two days in 2017.

Spending fell in Gisborne, South Canterbury, West Coast and Wairarapa.