26 January, 2018

Spenders loosen purse strings more last December than previous year

Shopping and gift spending was higher this Christmas than during the same period in 2016, but there were some big regional differences, according to data gleaned from Westpac NZ.

Westpac drilled down into the data of its CashNav app users* and found that on average they spent 14 per cent more ($133) per person during December 2017 compared with December 2016.

Westpac NZ’s chief product officer Shane Howell says it’s interesting looking at shopping patterns around the country.

“Aucklanders spent $1331 on average per person across December, taking in the lead up to Christmas as well as post-Christmas sales, while at the other end, the Manawatu-Whanganui region spent $888. That’s more than $440 difference, and while there will be differences in incomes, that’s still a saving for the people living there,” he says.

“Those customers using the free CashNav app are able to monitor their spending and make decisions about whether that level of spending meets their long-term savings goals or not. What’s important to us is that by providing this type of app we’re helping our customers to meet their financial goals,” Mr Howell says.

Taranaki had the largest increase in spending during December – a 29 per cent rise or $260 more on average per person, followed by Eastern Bay of Plenty which increased spending by 26 per cent or $222, and West Coast which increased spending by 26 per cent or $196. Spending differed across the various age groups.

Nelson had the lowest increase in spending at $56 or 7% increase on average per person across December. Just above Nelson was Gisborne on 9 per cent ($78) and Tasman on 10 per cent ($79).

Westpac’s CashNav app allows customers to track their daily spending habits by categorising what they spend their money on and identifying what is holding their saving plans back. It also lets them know if their spending is higher than usual.

The app does this by automatically categorising customers’ EFTPOS, debit and credit card transactions into one of 22 categories such as eating out, shopping, travel, entertainment, home, groceries, transportation, utilities, education and health. Retailers choose their category although CashNav users can re-categorise them if they want to.

The shopping category typically includes general retailers such as clothing shops, book, electronic and department stores, but does not include supermarkets.

Other statistics from the data showed that for CashNav users across New Zealand and across all age groups (18-75), The Warehouse was the store of choice during the month of December. Westpac CashNav users made the most unique transactions there, followed by Kmart in the regions that have a store, and then by Farmers, and followed by Briscoes.

“The most interesting thing for me was seeing where our customers like to go shopping around Christmas time – it’s the big red shed. It marks a change from December 2016 when Farmers and Kmart were the most popular in some regions including Auckland and Wellington,” he says.

* All extracted CashNav data is completely anonymous, and produced in aggregate form only, using age group, location zone and category spend. More than 104,000 Westpac NZ customers have downloaded the app.