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Retail fever rising

Friday 21 Dec 2012 5:32 p.m.

Shoppers spent over $200 million yesterday alone, and Paymark, which handle Eftpos transactions, say retail fever's rising.

Among the items on offer today was a pair of earrings valued at $1.8 million - that's $900,000 for each earring, even more than a typical Auckland home.

“My hope is that someone would wear them and get the enjoyment from them that people looking at them would get, but I could understand if someone wanted to put them in the safe,” says Michael Hill New Zealand managing director Greg Smith.

Paymark says spending over the past week has leapt 5.8 percent on the week before Christmas last year.

“Yesterday was a big day, $222 million, over 4 million transactions, which is pretty good,” says Paymark’s chief executive Simon Tong.

For the past three weeks spending in floor covering and furniture stores is up 20 percent on a year ago. Liquor and garden stores are also strong, as are hardware shops.

“If you think about garden centres, DIY, floor coverings, furniture and the strength we are seeing there you have got to assume there is some Christchurch rebuild in there,” says Mr Tong.

That might be why Canterbury was the strongest region - up over 5 percent.

But shops selling typical Christmas gifts aren't doing so well; traditional stocking fillers such as books and videos are down 3.1 percent.

Sporting and camping stores are slow, and even electronics are down 2.5 percent.

And we are cutting back on our travel too.

The Retailers Association says the figures are better than expected. It says when you consider the big discounts on products like TVs, the Paymark figures suggest the volume of goods being sold is up.

Paymark predicts the busiest days are still to come, with the single busiest hour likely to be between midday and 1pm on Monday.

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