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Christmas rush starts early!

MEDIA RELEASE

18 December 2003

Christmas rush starts early!

Shoppers spending up 12% in first weeks of December

The Christmas shopping rush is definitely on. Paymark estimates an upward swing of nearly 12% on the same period for last year and New Zealand retailers can expect their tills to ring even louder over the next week as people count down to Christmas.

New Zealanders spent $1.26 billion on their credit and debit (EFTPOS) cards during the first two weeks of December through the Paymark EFTPOS system. Approximately 80% of all electronic point of sale payment transactions throughout New Zealand are processed via the Paymark EFTPOS system providing an excellent indication of the level of activity in the marketplace.

Darryl Roots, Paymark spokesperson, says that people are either not leaving their Christmas shopping until the last minute or that retailers are in for a bumper Christmas.

"Certainly the fact that spending is up 12% on the same period last year, notwithstanding a buoyant economy, could indicate that people may be more organised than last year and are not leaving their shopping until the last minute. However, if history repeats itself, sales will be even higher as the countdown continues."

"We are seeing an increasing level of comfort with electronic transactions as New Zealanders opt to use either their debit or credit cards rather than cash to pay for purchases. Of the transactions during this early December period, approximately 73%comes from debit cards and the remaining 27% is from credit cards. With nearly three quarters of transactions being made on debit cards, it is a fair assumption people are managing their debt levels well."

When looking regionally at the spending breakdown, the West Coast of New Zealand has the largest increase in spending, up some 34% on the same time last year.

Other significant increases from the previous year in the first week of December include: Hawkes Bay (+14%), Wairarapa (+18%), Canterbury (+14%), Nelson (+19%) and Otago (+19%).

Significant increases during the second week of December include: Bay of Plenty (+21%), Nelson (+19%), Canterbury (+15%), Otago (+22%) and Southland (+16%).

The mega market of Auckland/Northland has registered a 10% increase over the two weeks, and accounts for 40% of all sales during the period.

Regional Spending Week One: 1 - 7 December

Name Transactions Value Increase on previous year

Auckland/Northland 4,232,296 242,502,824 10.06%

Waikato 788,433 39,426,906 6.38%

Bay of Plenty 735,093 38,271,675 8.91%

Gisborne 111,513 4,932,388 12.63%

Taranaki & Taupo 332,396 14,281,835 6.91%

Hawkes Bay 347,206 17,359,690 14.20%

Wanganui 126,192 5,458,803 -1.01%

Palmerston North 402,000 19,792,014 4.51%

Wairarapa 112,866 5,811,228 18.22%

Wellington 1,228,172 64,374,468 11.59%

Nelson 239,367 13,183,928 18.68%

Marlborough 139,222 7,737,779 13.71%

West Coast 80,571 4,483,337 28.18%

Canterbury 1,320,086 73,772,835 14.01%

South Canterbury 176,826 9,063,708 13.59%

Otago 598,158 32,854,022 18.68%

Southland 277,367 15,413,229 12.06%

Total 11,247,764 608,720,668 11.05%

Regional Spending Week Two: 8 - 14 December

Name Transactions Value Increase on previous year

Auckland/Northland 4,437,175 260,027,144 10.26%

Waikato 818,797 41,937,431 8.93%

Bay of Plenty 769,578 45,492,684 20.65%

Gisborne 117,372 5,516,587 12.96%

Taranaki & Taupo 351,646 15,493,483 9.71%

Hawkes Bay 363,817 18,500,018 10.60%

Wanganui 131,513 5,934,057 4.30%

Palmerston North 422,359 21,122,959 10.86%

Wairarapa 117,544 6,024,360 12.45%

Wellington 1,297,085 69,333,914 12.66%

Nelson 256,407 14,248,158 19.02%

Marlborough 145,751 8,226,751 9.57%

West Coast 86,136 4,988,414 40.27%

Canterbury 1,387,976 79,047,844 15.28%

South Canterbury 188,557 10,001,692 14.14%

Otago 626,961 34,942,183 21.75%

Southland 298,403 17,040,398 15.92%

Total 11,817,077 657,878,084 12.79%

ENDS


ABOUT PAYMARK PULSE

The Paymark EFTPOS system run by Electronic Transaction Services Ltd (ETSL) processes approximately 80% of New Zealand's electronic payment transactions (both debit and credit). It is therefore effectively able to measure the general "pulse' of electronic payment transactions across the nation on a regular basis.

Paymark Pulse is the regular report that reflects electronic consumer spending in New Zealand.

Paymark Pulse presents topical results and commentary, providing information to New Zealander's on their spending behaviour.

Because the level of transactions can vary on a regular basis due to consumer spending behaviour, Paymark Pulse is issued as a regular topical report around special trading periods such as Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter.

The total electronic payment spend (credit cards and debit cards) over the Christmas period is for the Paymark EFTPOS network only. It should be noted that the overall percentage change includes not only growth in retail spend but also the growth of electronic payments as a payment mechanism over cash, cheque and other non-electronic forms of payment.

THE PAYMARK FACT FILE

- The Paymark, is New Zealand's mark of electronic payment security. It ensures a secure future for electronic payments in New Zealand.

- The Paymark is administered and developed by ETSL and owned by four major banks - ASB BANK, Bank of New Zealand, The National Bank and Westpac. All leading electronic payment cards (debit and credit) use the Paymark system.

- A point of payment marked with the Paymark means certification has taken place.

- The Paymark is a visible sign which means that consumers' point of payment is safe.

- The Paymark is not associated with organisations that cannot offer the highest levels of security. This ensures the greatest protection for consumers and merchants.

- The terminal certification specification for Paymark EFTPOS in New Zealand is among the most stringent worldwide.

- The Paymark network is among the most reliable worldwide. ETSL has been awarded the prestigious International Tandem User Group Award for systems availability for five of the past six years.

- The Paymark network connects approximately 55,000 retailers to their banks for payments processing.

- Each day an average of 1.2 million transactions are processed by Paymark's processing systems on behalf of 3.5 million consumers and 55,000 retailers.

- The average time it takes a transaction to pass through the Paymark switch is 0.07 of a second.

Etsmr005


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