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Spending up on 2019

Tough retail year ended on a high note.

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, consumers here spent more than $423 million on credit and debit cards last year.

New figures from Paymark, which processes about 75 percent of all electronic transactions, show Gisborne consumers spent $24m more than in 2019.

“Retailers using the Paymark network know that 2020 was a tough year for many but by December, for a number at least, the year ended on a high note,” a Paymark spokesman said.

“The June quarter, which included the Level 4 nationwide lockdown, saw payments through Paymark via an underlying set of core retail merchants drop 15.5 percent from a year earlier in dollar terms.

“By the December quarter that had completely reversed, and year on year December 2020 was up by 5 percent over December 2019.

“For the year in total, core retail spending was $42.6 billion (nationally) through Paymark, an underlying increase of just 0.1 percent, not surprising in view of Covid-19.

“The average spend on each transaction across all cards increased from $39.04 to $42.58.

“Dig below the total, though, and some very mixed merchant experiences emerge.

“Within the core retail sector there are three large groups,” the spokesman said.

“There are the stores selling food and liquor. Spending remained strong for this group throughout the year, with an 11.5 percent growth rate for the 12 months.

“Conversely, spending through hospitality merchants was down 4.5 percent for the year.

“The hospitality sector can be split further into accommodation providers, some of which also serve food and liquor, and the larger food and beverage services sector, which includes cafes, bars, and takeaways.

“The food and beverage services subset experienced a decline in spending (-12.1 percent) for the year but were again posting annual spending growth by the December quarter (+2.7 percent).

“Payments through Paymark for accommodation merchants were down 30 percent for the year and were still running at this level in the December quarter.

“The third group that makes up the core retail sector are merchants who generally sell the day-to-day goods that we all require. This includes clothes, computers, couches and cosmetics to name just a few.

“These merchants recorded a decline in spending of 3.2 percent for the year but growth had also resumed in the December quarter, in this case to 6.7 percent.

“The diversity of experiences also shows in the regional spending patterns through Paymark,” the spokesman said.

“Spending for the year was down in the Paymark-defined regions of Auckland/Northland (-3.2 percent), Otago (-7.1) and Southland (-1.9) but up in some of the smaller North Island regions such as Wairarapa (+10.7), Wanganui (+7.9), Gisborne (+6.2), Taranaki (+6) and Hawke's Bay (+6).”

BUSY DECEMBER QUARTER: Gisborne consumers were quiet during the lockdown period compared with 2019 but sprang into action later in 2020, with Paymark figures showing a spending increase of 5 percent from the December 2019 quarter.