Christmas retail spending up but a warning some businesses are still suffering due to pandemic

New data shows Kiwis are splashing more cash in the lead-up to Christmas than previous years, but Retail NZ says not all retailers are feeling the love.

Worldline (previously Paymark) head of data George Putnam said they were seeing spending levels well above last year, which for the six weeks leading into Christmas was a record $4.9B.

The transaction and payment service said across their network, accommodation merchants in Bay of Plenty jumped 43 per cent in the first five days following the easing of Auckland’s boundary, compared to the same five days a week earlier.

“Movement to this region is typical for this time of year but the increased accommodation spending in recent days occurred earlier this year, coinciding with the removal of the Auckland travel restrictions,” Putnam said.

Unity Books Wellington manager Adrian Hardingham said they were “very, very” busy, and even had to set up queues out the door to maintain Covid-19 distancing.

Hardingham told the Herald it had been just as busy as other Christmases and they had hired additional staff to keep up with demand.

His recommendation for shoppers hoping to bag a book was that they get in “ASAP” and keep an open mind as the book they want may not be available.

Auckland’s Sylvia Park was also a hotspot for holiday shoppers.

A spokesperson said the mall had been busy in the build-up to Christmas, with customers coming to visit Santa, enjoy the festivities and stock up on gifts for family and friends.

But not everyone has been as lucky and Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford told the Herald overall it had been a “slow Christmas” for in-store shopping compared to previous years.

This was is on top of an extended lockdown for Auckland retailers and as costs continued to rise across the sector, he said.

Adding to the cost was having to employ additional staff or security workers to help with Covid-19 compliance.

“We had a big rush when Auckland came out of lockdown but since then things have been quite patchy.”

He pointed to concern regarding Covid-19 in the community and the fact that many people got used to the more transactional online shopping experience, which meant people weren’t picking up things that weren’t necessarily on their list.

Harford said people were again shopping earlier and Black Friday had become the “big shopping day” of the year.

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