< The figures released by Paymark for March read somewhat like a patch-work quilt of spending. While weekly growth was steady nationwide, regional and industry spending was more of a mixed bag.
Steady week-to-week growth saw the value of Paymark transactions throughout March increase by 4.8 percent, the fastest annual growth rate since October 2008.
Annual growth was higher outside the large urban centres with Gisborne (+12 percent) and South Canterbury (+11 percent) leading the way. The combined Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury regions (+4.1 percent) remained below the national average.
If you’re in the footwear business, you’ll have more to smile about. It seems shoppers had a particular penchant for shoes in March with growth up 16 percent in the footwear sector.
Other industry sectors that experienced strong growth during the month were fuel (+14 percent), automotive repair outlets (+11 percent) and food takeaways (+10 percent).
However, not all sectors experienced the joy of growth - fresh produce and clothing were down two and one percent respectively.
Tourism operators can breathe easy with continued steady growth. Hotel accommodation spending jumped 49 percent from the June 2009 low and 7.7 percent on the March peak of 2009.
As the country moved into holiday mode with the Easter long weekend, a surge was also evident on what is New Zealand’s third busiest shopping day. Thursday, April 1 saw a total of 3.3 million transactions processed through the Paymark network, up 10.1 percent on the same date last year.
Across the four days of the long weekend, the total volume of transactions was up 5.4 percent on Easter 2009.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong says that this latest data continues the theme of a patchy recovery for retail.
“We continue to see variation across sectors and regions this year. Whilst some New Zealand retail outlets are experiencing steady growth, others are still finding their feet. Our figures indicate we’ve still got a way to go before we’re back on track,” he says.