With Christmas fast approaching, Hawke's Bay consumers are heading to their local hardware store in droves in search of the perfect gift.
Figures from Paymark, which processes 75 per cent of the country's electronic transactions, show a slight rise in spending nationwide during November.
Year-on-year spending is up 4.6 per cent and up 1 per cent from October. Purchases at hardware stores however, are up significantly, with a 10.4 per cent year-on-year increase.
Mitre 10 Mega Hastings owner Kevin Ricketts said there had certainly been an upswing. But he did not think it was solely related to Christmas, rather an indicator of the wider economy's recovery. There was "more positivity in the market", he said, although trade was still dependent on the home improvement industry, as opposed to new building projects.
Things were expected to get busier in the next few weeks as the build-up to Christmas gained momentum, he said.
"I think we've had quite a few months of upswing so it's showing signs that it's [the Christmas spending period] maybe a bit more long-lived than previously," Mr Ricketts said.
Although the store wasn't a giftware retailer, it was selling a lot of "Christmas present-type items".
"Historically, it's very much around the outdoor furniture, barbecues, camping type products which shows a particular seasonal upswing at the moment," he said.
The Paymark figures are evidence the festive season is upon us. Spending at cafes and restaurants is up 9.3 per cent and liquor retailers enjoyed a 10 per cent surge.
Paymark spokesman Paul Whiston said the increase in pre-Christmas spending followed the same pattern of recent years.
"We have seen the usual lift in spending from mid-November and the last seven days of the month were up 10.4 per cent compared with the last seven days of October," Mr Whiston said.
While this shows an improvement on recent months, the increase can in part be attributed to this November having five Fridays, he says. '
Despite the buoyant figures, some retailers were still finding it tough.
"Based on historic figures, we expect the real rush is yet to come. Between 2007 and 2011, spending jumped an average of 27 per cent from November to December as Kiwis ramped up their card usage in anticipation of Christmas," Mr Whiston said.
Other sectors to experience a lift above the 4.6 per cent national average included automotive outlets (up 7.9 per cent) and clothing shops (up 6.5 per cent).
This was perhaps fuelled by those looking for the perfect Christmas party outfit, Mr Whiston said.
"It's great to see Kiwis getting into the Christmas spirit and spending across a diverse range of sectors. We hope to see retailers reaping the benefits in the coming weeks."
Waikato enjoyed the highest regional growth in spending between November 2011 and last month (up 6.5 per cent), followed by Canterbury (up 5.7 per cent) which has been leading the charge since June.
NZ Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said the figures were encouraging.
There was already good feedback from retailers, though this year would not be a huge bonanza.
"Cautiously optimistic might be the way to put it. It's positive, but it's not the sort of stuff you're going to go out and dance naked in the street [over]," Mr Albertson said.
- 2011: 2.19 million transactions, $106.6 million spent
- 2012: 2.27 million transactions (4 per cent increase), $110.7 million spent (3.9 per cent increase)
- 2011: 76.87 million transactions, $3.902 billion
- 2012: 80.8 million transactions (5.1 per cent increase), $4.082 billion spent (up 4.6 per cent)
- Source: Paymark