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December retail spending rises

Monday 9th January 2012

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New Zealanders spent about $4.6 billion on their debit and credit cards in December, up about 3.4 percent from the same month a year earlier, which bodes well for 2012, says Paymark, which processes 75 percent of the nation’s electronic transactions.

Gains were led by a 9.2 percent increase in discretionary spending, including clothing and footwear and growth in the building and home improvements sector, up 5 percent for the month, the strongest growth recorded last year.

“2011 was a tough year for retailers, with all kinds of local and global factors affecting business – it is encouraging to see a bit of positivity with higher discretionary spending in the latter part of the year,” said Ben Robinson, a Paymark spokesman. “Signs of more discretionary spending bode well for the future even if the trend is patchy across sectors and across regions at present.”

Spending growth was strongest in Palmerston North, up 7.7 percent, followed by South Canterbury on 6.5 percent, while weak annual growth rates were recorded in Canterbury on -0.9 percent and Marlborough on -0.8 percent.

Debit cards remained the dominate payment type in 2011, with 701 million transactions despite the overall growth rate slowing to 3.6 percent. Credit card’s surpassed debit card usage in December accelerating 0.7 percent from 0.2 percent in the same month of 2010.

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