Oamaru tills keep on ringing

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Tills around Oamaru have continued to ring merrily up with only one day left until Christmas Day.

Retailers around town have reported sales as being similar to last Christmas or better. The solid trend reported earlier in the month has continued.

Camerons Mens and Womenswear manager Karen Lord said their sales were on a par with last year and the pre-Christmas sales period had its “busy spots”.

Richard Hill, of Oamaru Sports and Outdoors, has noticed a similar trend.

“I’d say we’re on level pegging with last Christmas or slightly up. In the last week it’s stepped up, with more foot traffic.”

He said the town was also more positive with the “debacle” at the Alliance Pukeuri meat works now consigned to the past and with about half of the more than 192 former Summit Woolspinners workers who had been made redundant earlier this year being re-employed by the plant’s new owners.

Wet weather on Saturday brought out the shoppers to The Warehouse and company spokesperson Joanne Fullam said the Oamaru store was trading ahead of the usual Otago and North Otago trend.

“All of our Christmas categories are performing well this year.”

Paymark figures released yesterday showed spending nationally through the Paymark network was up 6.9 per cent year-on-year for the first three weeks of December.

Last Friday was the busiest day of the year to date, with $235.6 million through the tills, up 5.7 per cent on the same day in 2012.

Paymark head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, said New Zealanders spent more than $1.3 billion between the December 15 and 21.

“This is a strong performance and growth so far and December is still ahead of the year-to-date average,” he said.

“However, the figures do point to some variances. The annual growth rate has slowed as the month has progressed, from 8.6 per cent in the first week of December to a 6.9 per cent average over the month to date. Whether that reflects better planning this year will be interesting to see.”

Growth momentum has been sustained across a number of sectors including accommodation (11.9 per cent), restaurants, bars and cafes (10.4 per cent), food takeaways (10.4 per cent) and hardware / building supplies (10.1 per cent).

Mr Whiston said internet spending could be impacting some sectors, such as clothing retailers and book shops, which were showing low growth or falling sales.

By CHRIS TOBIN