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Consumer Spending And Retailers’ Hopes Lift In Final Run Up To Christmas

AUCKLAND, 22 December 2023 – Consumer spending increased in the third full week of December, lifting both the month-to-date annual growth rate and the hopes of retailers, as expectations rise for Friday and Saturday to be the busiest shopping days of the year.

Worldline NZ reported today that consumer spending processed through all Core Retail merchants (excluding Hospitality) in its payments network during the first 21 days of December reached $2.653B, which is up +2.9% on 1-21 December 2022 and up +17.7% on the same days in 2019.

Chief Sales Officer for Worldline NZ, Bruce Proffit, says the third seven days of December (15-21 Dec) repeated the pattern of the previous week, with spending data showing both the traditional uptick in the approach to Christmas Day and an increase in the running annual month-to-date growth rate.

“Both of these indicators will be welcome news for Kiwi retail merchants, who will be looking forward to a boost to sales at the end of what’s been a challenging year,” says Proffit.

Proffit says spending for the combined three weeks (1-21 December) was up (+7.1%) amongst Food & Liquor merchants and down (-2.9%) across the remaining Core Retail merchants (excluding Hospitality).

Within the Core Retail group, sectors experiencing annual growth include Recreational Goods (+1.7%) and Chemists (+5.2%), while spending at Clothing/Footwear stores (-8.2%) and the large Hardware & Furniture grouping (-0.6%) remain down on last year.

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“Looking closer at the daily pattern, we can see the spending build-up to Christmas Day is following a similar pattern to that of 2017, when Christmas Day was last on a Monday,” says Proffit.

“This suggests Friday and Saturday (22 and 23 December) will be the busiest shopping days of the year, although Sunday should also be busy thanks to the usual last-minute shoppers.”

Regionally, overall spending through Core Retail merchants in the first 21 days of December was up strongest in Whanganui (+10.5%) and Otago (+6.9%). Spending remains lower than last year in Southland (-3.4%) and Taranaki (-0.5%).

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