23 Dec 2015

Christmas customers keeping cautious

3:40 pm on 23 December 2015

Shoppers are spending more than last year, but a research poll indicates nearly one in three people plan to spend less than they did last Christmas, Paymark says.

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The Research New Zealand poll questioned 500 people over the age of 18.

People were asked about their spending on presents and holidays, with 30 percent of those polled planning to spend less this Christmas.

The poll also asked about the religious significance of Christmas, and whether the summer holiday period should be shifted from December to February, when the weather was warmer and more settled.

More than half those polled were against shifting the holiday period, with 53 percent against it, 38 percent in favour of a move and nine percent undecided.

There were some positive indications for retailers around Christmas spending in the media at the moment, research director Emanuel Kalafatelis said.

"But really, if you stand back from that, the figures that we are seeing, and have seen for the last couple of years, suggest to us that people are still cautious, and some of the economic indicators reflect that as well," Mr Kalafatelis said.

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However, Paymark figures for electronic spending for the three days from last Friday to Sunday showed shoppers broke the record for spending in this period, with retailers clocking up $604 million in sales.

"Spending is up quite a lot, it was the biggest weekend of the year and set a record with really consistent spending across the network", said Paymark's chief marketing officer Tim McFarlene.

The electronic payment provider usually has 50 to 60 transactions a second, but over the weekend that doubled.

And Mr McFarlene expected it to not let up tomorrow.

"Christmas Eve is by far the biggest (day of spending) and so even this week, with a longer week leading up to Christmas Day and a longer weekend pre-Christmas, I think Christmas Eve is going to be a big one," Mr McFarlene said.