The seasonal lift in spending ahead of Christmas Day is still running well ahead of last year as we start counting off the shopping days remaining. Taking a mid-November starting point 42 days ahead of Christmas Day, spending is up 5.6% to Saturday 7 December in underlying terms through the Paymark network.

Paymark has processed 106 million transactions for $5,030 million in these 25 pre-Christmas days.

The fastest growth has been outside of the major centres, including Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough.

The big Black Friday sales have been the key event so far, with spending up more than 10% across the country amongst non-fuel merchants on each of the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the sales weekend, and even higher growth was recorded amongst core retail merchants selling non-food goods.

Not surprisingly spending did steady a little in recent days. Spending on Saturday 7 December 2019 was up only 2.0% on Saturday last year for the non-fuel merchants but down on Friday and Saturday amongst the non-food core retailers.

Nonetheless, the pattern is set for another big week this week, total spending levels expected to approach Black Friday levels this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then even higher the following week. And the next two Saturdays will see plenty of celebration judging by the spending pattern amongst pubs and bars last year.

Last week, though, it was the more mundane of importance. Double-digit annual growth in the seven days to Saturday, 7 December was recorded by Trade Services (+12.3%), Cleaning services (+11.7%), Insurance companies (+21.5%), Auto repairs and service shops (+10.7%), Hardware stores (+10.3%), Liquor outlets (+14.0%) and Chemists (+10.8%).

It would appear that we intend to be well prepared this year.