Boxing Day spending was flat on last year with the busiest shopping day of the year officially being last Friday, according to new data.

Data from payment provider Worldline showed Boxing Day spending around Aotearoa reached $98.3 million yesterday, down 0.6 per cent on last year but up 2.4 per cent on 2019.

New Zealand’s chief of sales, Bruce Proffit, said that although the drop in spending this Boxing Day would be disappointing for retailers, it was in line with the overall trends seen over the past six months.

First Retail managing director Chris Wilkinson said the 0.6 per cent drop in spending was particularly challenging for retailers but would have been expected.

“While spending has been restrained, it didn’t mean people were not out in force in some categories – such as home improvement, while many malls reported carpark queues as people headed inside to browse and shop,” Wilkinson said.

Last week’s last-minute pre-Christmas shopping overtook Boxing Day in transaction volumes.

The most transactions on Boxing Day came through at 12.34pm, when 6074 payments were processed through Worldline NZ’s network.

But the company’s data showed this was 44 per cent lower than the number of transactions on the last Friday before Christmas, which data showed was officially the busiest shopping day of the year for another year.

Worldline data showed Friday’s peak minute for transactions was at 12.28pm when 10,805 payments were processed through Worldline around the country.

But the number is down on previous years. Last year, Worldline processed 11,294 payments during the highest peak minute on the Friday before Christmas.

Wellington experienced the biggest shopping slump with a 10.8 per cent drop in spending this Boxing Day, followed by the Bay of Plenty (down 6.4 per cent).

Otago and Wairarapa saw the biggest jump where retail spending saw a 9.4 per cent and 8.5 per cent rise.

Wilkinson said Wairarapa’s spending boost likely reflects “Wellingtonians escaping a dreary Boxing Day”, as well as residential development in the area and its popularity as a summer holiday spot.

“New retailers such as Harvey Norman have only just opened in Masterton and will have been strong contributors,” he said.

In Otago, Wilkinson said shopping would have seen a boost from a double cruise day with more than 6000 passengers and crew disembarking in the area for the day.

“Many retailers recognised the opportunity and opened especially, which would have helped in that increase. Queenstown is also very busy this year, while Wānaka has large new retailers, including The Warehouse, Noel Leeming and Mountain Warehouse that have opened recently and will have helped drive spending growth,” he said.

He said the North Island’s provincial areas where spending was noticeably down is likely because “people were more cautious in their spending, travelling a little less and some fairly average weather that wasn’t enough to encourage people out and into the stores”.

Spending at food and liquor outlets in Worldline’s network was a more positive result, reaching $14.6m yesterday, a 14.1 per cent rise on last year.

Consumer spending lifted in the third week of December, with retail spending coming in at $2.65 billion for the first three weeks of this month according to Worldline.

That was up 2.9 per cent on the same period last year and 17.7 per cent on 2019.

“There is hope that with recently announced changes in mortgage rates, petrol prices coming back from their recent highs, and growth in grocery prices also tipped to be stabilising, consumer confidence will return in 2024,” Wilkinson said.

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