22 Dec 2017

Christmas blitzin': NZ card payments hit record

3:07 pm on 22 December 2017

A record 179 transactions per second have gone through eftpos terminals today as New Zealand retailers make the most of their busiest time of the year.

Christmas shopping in Wellington.

Christmas shopping in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

More than $282 million was taken through the Paymark network yesterday, and at one point today the system was processing 179 transactions per second.

Paymark spokesperson Paul Brislen said December spending across the whole country was up 7.6 percent on last year and had been increasing for the last five years.

"Quite how long that can last is anybody's guess and no doubt the economists are going to be arguing about whether it's a bubble or a sustainable trend or quite what is going on.

"I would put it down to access to credit and also people being willing to spend on things like Christmas, in particular."

Paymark processes about 75 percent of the country's transactions, but does not measure payments made online or over the phone.

Mr Brislen said Paymark's figures gave a good indication of spending trends but could not provide the whole picture.

"For that, we have to wait until Stats NZ does the household survey and comes up with some hard data at the end of the month."

In the regions, Canterbury had the lowest growth from last year at 6.8 percent, and Marlborough had the largest growth.

"By far the most outstanding region in terms of retail sales is Marlborough which is up by 23 percent," he said.

"We included Kaikōura in the Marlborough region for our analysis - and of course last year they were just coming out from under the earthquake, retail sales were really really low and they were struggling quite significantly - so this is clear signs of a bit of a bounce-back," Mr Brislen said.

Appliance, hardware, and toy shops had the biggest jump in sales from last year, while clothing stores, book shops and watch and jewellery retailers had either no growth or very little.

Christmas shopping in Wellington.

Clothing stores saw little or no growth. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Brislen said this was likely owed to more people shopping for these types of products online.

Wellingtonians on Lambton Quay were fast and furious as they scrambled to finish off their shopping before the weekend.

Shop worker Catherine Lockwood-Jones said the whole week had been busy but today had picked up just before midday.

"Since 11 o'clock it has in fact got slightly busier, lots of last -minute shopping, lots of last-minute secret santa shopping for work colleagues. Really the streets are picking up now so I think people are finishing work now a little bit early."

Christmas shopping in Wellington. Catherine Lockwood-Jones of Three Wise Men clothing store says shoppers have been making last minute purchases today.

Catherine Lockwood-Jones of Three Wise Men clothing store says shoppers have been making last minute purchases today. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

She said it was not havoc yet but shoppers were starting to feel the stress.

"Some are totally frazzled, yes it's kind of funny, but it's all good, it's a good mood everywhere."

Shopper Sue Hobbes was out getting last-minute gifts for family in Auckland.

Christmas shopping in Wellington. Sue Hobbes is doing her last minute shopping.

Sue Hobbes is doing her last-minute shopping. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"It's the first time in my life I've ever left anything to today, usually I'm all organised packed and wrapped."

She said it was busy but most people were still managing to keep their cool.

"I think it's quite good vibes, everyone's quite polite, no one's pushed me out the way or anything yet, no fights so it's all good."

Briar Ulberg has been manning the Cookie Time biscuit stand all week.

"This morning's definitely been a lot busier than the past couple of days," she said.

Christmas shopping in Wellington. Briar Ulberg says last minute shopper are out in full force today.

Briar Ulberg says last-minute shoppers are out in full force today. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"I've been out every day since Monday so I've seen it progressively get busier and busier and I think because works are finishing earlier today so lots of people are just getting out and doing their shopping before they head off, most likely this afternoon."

She said she would not be surprised if tomorrow was even busier.

"Tomorrow's probably going to be crazy, I haven't done my Christmas shopping yet so I'll be running around but everyone's in pretty good spirits which is nice."

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