Paymark and December shopping

In an article filled with interesting facts, James Weir from the Dominion Post looks at the Paymark data.  This data gives a strong indicator of what happened to eftpos sales over a month – which is probably relatively similar to what happened to retail sales itself.

Now, I agree with them that these numbers indicate relatively flat volumes – as even with the collapse in petrol prices, total retail prices are up by at least 3% on a year earlier.

Furthermore, their point about the excessively strong appliance sales figure is very apt.  Prices are down but values are up 15% – that is some strong volume growth.  The reason for this is probably precautionary – all the statistics suggest that people believe now is a good time to buy appliances, but in a few months it won’t be.  Interestingly, this is not what we would normally expect during a recession – especially a credit driven one!

One thing I want to point out in the article though is the perceived “strength” of food and grocery sales.  Sure the value is up 10% – but so are the prices!  As a result, volumes would have been flat.

Still, these are some interesting numbers – and they are extremely timely!