Kiwis spend more in lead up to Christmas this year as recession looms

Kiwis spent more this year in the lead-up to Christmas than in 2021, but only just, according to new data from Worldline.

Figures released on Tuesday show spending over the three weeks up to Christmas Eve topped $2.89 billion.

That's up 0.8 percent compared to 2021.

Otago and Marlborough were big spenders but the West Coast led the charge - up 10.7 percent from 2021.

Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington spent less - but the biggest drop was in Gisborne by about 2.1 percent. 

As for Boxing Day spending, that was up 2.6 percent to just over $100 million. But it was still usurped by the cash splashed on Black Friday.

Kiwis were out in force this festive season, with some spending up large. 

"I think we've spent much more than we would normally," one shopper said. 

Others went hunting for bargains. 

"We bought a few small, well-thought-out gifts for family," said another. 

Retail New Zealand's chief executive Greg Harford told Newshub he's stoked. 

"The last couple of years have been pretty horrific for retailers, so it's really good news that Kiwis are getting out and about and supporting their local retailers and helping businesses to keep going."

Online shopping too appeared to be a hit with consumers and Kiwi company Mighty Ape is celebrating its results. 

"Sales were up 20 percent for Mighty Ape over the Christmas and Boxing Day period," said website spokesperson Tim Macrow.

But New Zealand's spend-up comes as economists are warning people to reign it in. 

"Given inflation is running at 7 percent Kiwis have been spending a lot of money, but they just aren't getting bang for their buck," said Infometrics principal economist Brad Olsen. 

And with the Reserve Bank signalling a recession next year, Olsen is warning people to heed the message. 

"The sooner we can try and naturally bring down that level of economic activity and being more restrained, the quicker the economy will be able to get through, what should be, a shallow recession."