Statistics show New Zealanders are spending more on Christmas hospitality than three years ago

Friday is the peak day for work Christmas parties and after two years in which COVID was the Christmas Grinch, people are determined to party like it's 2019.

Despite New Zealand's grim economic outlook, the latest statistics show we're spending more than we did even three years ago on our Christmas hospitality.

For many people, Christmas parties are the highlight of the year.

"We're on our way, we're on our way, Christmas is great, that's what it's all about, let's enjoy it for what it is," one person said.

"I think there'll be a lot of fun had tonight, let's just say that." another person said.

The good old work Christmas do was last seen in full festive glory in 2019.

Three years later people are finally letting their hair down.

When asked why people enjoy Christmas functions so much one person said: "It's something to look forward to every single year."

Another said: "[It's] to keep the bond of your company together. It's been really hard for the last couple of years not being able to hang out or see anyone."

Restaurant Association's Mike Egan said it's a chance for bosses to say thank you for everyone's hard work throughout the year.

"There's a lot of companies that are working sort of a bit from home a bit at work and it's like their final chance for them to get the teams together and say 'hey thanks for hanging in for the year and we look forward to next year and we take you out for lunch or dinner'," Egan said.

Onslow restaurant chef Josh Emmett noticed the uptick six weeks ago with the Christmas party season now in full swing.

"People get through the weekly grind and they need to go out and celebrate, they need to have fun we've had it rough for two years," Emmett said.

He added staffing was a big issue for the hospitality sector with it being down by 30,000 people.

"People are starting to come through on their tourist visas, it has been really messy and really difficult."

It comes at a time when we're meant to be tightening our belts but statistics show December's been a big month for hospitality, which helped drive the 2 percent rise in GDP reported earlier this week.

"What we've seen is an increase in spend across the country in bars and restaurants of about 27 percent. In Auckland, it's been more than 33 percent and importantly it's about a four percent increase on the 2019 numbers," chief sales officer Bruce Proffit said.

What is good news for hospitality and clothing retailers is bad news when it comes to big-ticket items. 

Retail analysts Worldline said spending's down about 10 percent in furniture stores, hardware stores and homeware stores.