High interest rates and inflation impact Black Friday spending

Black Friday shopping appears to have been brisk but not frenzied.

Families continue to struggle with high interest rates and inflation and that may have taken the gloss off a day retailers were hoping would be a boomer.

It was late morning on Black Friday and Westfield Newmarket was kind of busy.

Still, there were bargains to be found and many customers were happy.

"Day off today so [I] used the opportunity to get out and do the Christmas shopping ahead of the silly season," one person said.

"Started my Christmas shopping today. Got some bargains, got some presents for my family, for myself as well, and some work colleagues as well," another said.

By early afternoon Sylvia Park was busy, the car park was full and State Highway 1 was clogged.

The glass-half-full or half-empty mood was reflected in retail stats for the third quarter released on Friday.

Total retail sales volume fell by 3.4 percent on last year, mirroring the second quarter's fall.

"So you've had the cost of living crisis, you've got inflation high, you've got interest rates increasing, you've got wage pressures, you've got freight costs increasing," said Retail NZ CEO Carolyn Young.

"Retailers at some point have had to put up prices and that's put pressure on everybody coming out and spending."

Retail NZ said this year Black Friday's a big deal because the last couple of months have been so flat.

"I've had some big retailers coming to me in the last couple of days, saying they've brought forward their first day of their Black Friday sales to try and generate interest to get people into the stores and to get the foot traffic," Young said.

Infometrics chief executive Brad Olsen says the rise in net migration is offsetting higher interest rates and higher costs.

"We're starting to see in the numbers an idea that perhaps while people are spending still, on the essentials, they have been pulling back on the discretionary items," he said.

"Maybe they're willing to have a small treat, not a large treat, just a small treat a little bit more than they did before."

Card spending data's not out yet but by Monday we could know how Black Friday really was.