Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod says:
“December is the peak time for retail spending in the New Zealand economy, and 2016 was no exception. As is typical at this time of year, households ramped up their spending on a range of items, with particularly large increases in spending on durable goods like home furnishings. There were also strong gains in spending on apparel and consumable items.”
In terms of total expenditure, the New Zealand Christmas Eve record from 2015 was smashed, according to figures from payment network Paymark. Transactions were up to 171 per second on Saturday 24 December, up from the 157 transactions per second recorded last year. The busiest hour for shoppers was 12pm - 1pm, when 543,000 transactions were put through.
New Zealanders also managed to spend a record $6 billion shopping in December, which is the highest-ever monthly figure recorded by Statistics New Zealand. Shoppers swiped their electronic cards and spent $304 million more than throughout December 2015, an increase of 5.3 per cent.
In true relaxed Kiwi fashion, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the quick dash to the stores for those last-minute presents. Kate Webby from Vend says Kiwi shoppers continue to leave their Christmas gift hunting to the last minute - the top-spending days of the holiday period were all in the last few days before Christmas, with the 23rd December the biggest spending day, as in previous years.
We spoke with Jeff Hunkin, communications advisor from Trade Me, who informed us that Kiwis woke up on Christmas Day to toys, mobile phones, musical instruments and sports equipment as purchases as those items skyrocketed on Trade Me late December 2016. On the flipside, artwork, jewellery and DVDs proved less popular this time around, seeing a dip in the number of sales compared to the same period in 2015. He says activity surged throughout November and into mid-December as people bought gifts on Trade Me in the lead-up to the festive season. Christmas trading peaked in the week ending December 16 before quietening down as buyers allowed enough time for their presents to be delivered. The items that Kiwis searched for most on Trade Me at Christmas 2016 included something for everyone: iPhones and iPads; Nike and Adidas gear; trampolines; bikes; Karen Walker and Country Road apparel; Lego, and Hatchimals.
Information from Vend suggests that the high spending levels were driven by increased discounting by retailers. Vend’s data indicates discounting levels were 6 percent higher in the month leading up to Christmas than from Boxing Day into January.
“For the same period in 2015 discounting was 4 percent higher post-Christmas, so there’s clearly been a big shift in the last year,” Webby says. “This is might seem like good news for consumers, but retailers need to ensure they’re being strategic with their discounts, without cutting into their profits or the value of their brand and products down the line.”