A merry time was had by shoppers and merchants this year, across the Paymark network. A new peak spend was reached on Friday 20 December and spending over the six weeks leading into Christmas Day was up an underlying 4.6% on last year to $8,887 million.

The pre-Christmas spend got away to a strong start with the Black Friday sales late November, with the Boxing Day sales again extending the spending season. As usual, for most merchants, the busiest days remain the days immediately before Christmas Day. Black Friday proved to be a busier day than Boxing Day in total this year but that relativity varies considerably between merchant groupings.

Boxing Day proved to be another bonus for the bargain hunters. Spending through Paymark totalled $149.8 million on Thursday 26 December, up 3.9% on an underlying basis on Boxing Day last year.

Spending growth was highest outside the major centres, including Marlborough (+13.3%), Wanganui (+11.5%) and Wairarapa (+11.2%). Spending growth was moderate in Northland/Auckland (+1.5%) but down in Otago (-0.8%) and West Coast (-3.2%).

Spending at Supermarkets (+5.1%) and Liquor retailers (+14.2%) was up on Boxing Day last year, as too was spending at Cafes and restaurants (+6.1%) but the key interest is amongst the shops were the bargains were aplenty.

For the core retailers (excluding food and hospitality retailers) including many of the discounters, Boxing Day was mixed depending on which market segment they operate in. Underlying spending for this key group of merchants was 0.4% below Boxing Day last year. Spending was up for the likes of Sport equipment retailers (+5.6%) and Hardware stores (+6.6%) but down for Clothing and footwear stores (-7.6%).