Boxing Day bonanza as card use soars

Boxing Day transactions have risen by about 30 per cent from last year, with just under four million withdrawals processed, the National Australia Bank says, bringing some Christmas joy for the embattled retail sector.

The bank said it registered more than 3.8 million ATM, EFTPOS, debit and credit card transactions yesterday, at a peak rate of about 100 a second.

The Boxing Day spike is an increase from NAB transactions over the past year, which grew at a rate of 15 per cent.

The data came as the consumer discretionary sector on the ASX200 rose 0.5 per cent this morning. David Jones shares were up 1.7 per cent in early trade, while Myer stocks lifted by 1.9 per cent.

In 2011, Boxing Day transactions hovered just below three million and at a peak rate of about 80 a second.

Shoppers were wielding their plastic at the highest volumes ever recorded by NAB on Christmas Eve, with a peak of 206.58 transactions per second. December 20 was the busiest day during the Christmas period, with a total of 7.7 million transactions processed at a peak rate of 181.76 per second.

CASH SPLASH:

Bendigo Advertiser: Boxing Day sales frenzy in Bendigo

The Courier (Ballarat): Lining up for the best Boxing Day bargains

Illawarra Mercury: Bargain hunters snap up clothes, electronics

But an NAB spokesman said the year-on-year growth in Boxing Day transactions could also be a reflection of the increasing use of cards over cash for shoppers.

Ingrid Just of consumer watchdog Choice said shoppers were moving away from carrying lots of cash, were using EFTPOS more and were also purchasing more online using their cards.

‘‘Bricks and mortar stores - some of the big department stores like Myer and David Jones - are really throwing a lot of money at their online business. They were offering Boxing Day sales on Christmas Day in the evening [online], and really using that as a foot in the door,’’ Ms Just said.

‘‘I don’t think we’ve seen that before. Additionally, we’re seeing non-retail businesses, like airlines, starting to get into the Boxing Day sales through their online channels. The traditional door-busting sales have started to bleed into online in a serious way.’’

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