Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr’s pleas to New Zealand consumers to “just cool the jets” on their spending seem to have gone unheard if 2022’s full-year consumer spending data is anything to go by.

Multinational payment and transactional services firm Wordline found that its NZ consumers opened their wallets more in 2022 than in any full year previously through its payments network.

Core retail merchants – excluding hospitality – reached $35.9 billion, up 4.7% on 2021 and a 13.6% jump on 2019. 

The average transaction size in 2022 was $52.01 – edging up 2.5% from 2021.

“The average transaction value increased across a wide range of sectors although these increases did not match the 2022 inflation rate, suggesting that shoppers did adjust their spending to meet their budget constraints,” Worldline NZ’s chief sales officer Bruce Proffit said.

The two “major” economic themes of 2022 – inflation and recovery from lockdowns – could also be seen in Worldline NZ’s figures.

“The removal of lockdowns most strongly influenced the hospitality sector, where spending through Worldline NZ’s network was up 11.9% in 2022, to $10.9b,” Proffit said.

“However, this total is marginally below the pre-covid levels of 2019 (-0.2%), no doubt an impact of there being fewer international visitors.”

In the month of December 2022 and excluding hospitality, consumer spending came to $3.9b – up 1.5% on December 2021 and a leap of 15.6% on 2019. 

The annual growth rate was highest in the West Coast where it rose 11.2% and the lowest in Wellington where it fell 1.2%. 

Annual spending growth was seen in South Island regions and some North Island regions but the larger North Island also saw lower spending in December relative to a year ago. 

Spending patterns also became mixed by the end of the year and the new year has started in a similar vein, Worldline found.

“We previously reported spending in the busy six-week pre-Christmas period of 2022 being slightly down on 2021,” Profitt said.

“We can now report a modest increase in spending for the full month of December 2022 over December 2021, which has persisted in the first week of January 2023.” 

In the first week of 2023, consumer spending in core retail sectors excluding hospitality came to a little over $661m, up 1.6% from the previous corresponding period in January last year.