In news sure to warm marketers' cockles, the latest figures from Paymark, the network that processes over 75 percent of all electronic transactions in the New Zealand retail market, show that good old fashioned consumer spending is on the up. But the increased shelling out evident in some of the smaller centres is not being shared equally across the regions.
The collective growth across major centres Auckland/Northland, Christchurch and Wellington averaged out at just 1.8 percent from February 2009 to February 2010, while the rest of the country experienced a 3.4 percent increase (on average), with the fastest growing regions in terms of year-on-year spend being Gisborne (+8.6 percent), Otago (+5.6 percent) and Waikato (+4.6 percent).
In general terms, the extra spending outside the main population centres can be put down to growth across two major non-discretionary categories, petrol and food outlets, and these spending patterns are consistent with the increased volume of tourists visiting the country over the summer months and the decline in Kiwis holidaying abroad.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong says these early electronic indicators for 2010 are a source of cautious optimism.
“The growth that we see in February’s figures is encouraging, especially for the smaller regions. However, what this means in terms of continued, strong growth for the country as a whole remains to be seen”, he says.
Spending declines were again experienced in housing-related sectors like furniture, hardware and appliances, as well as clothing stores, with the only notable exception to the tighter discretionary purse-strings coming in the restaurant and cafe sector, which experienced growth of seven percent.