Paymark electronic retail transactions data for Palmerston North suggests that the Massey University graduation ceremonies in mid-May provided a $350,000 boost to the city.
The Paymark analysis is based on retail expenditure over the period from Sunday 13 May to Thursday 17 May 2012 and compares the total value of transactions over this five day period with the two weeks prior to and after graduation week.
"Palmerston North City Council will be publishing an economic profile on the education sector in late August, Mayor Jono Naylor said. "It is expected to reinforce the importance of the education sector to the local economy in terms of the direct economic activity it generates."
Average five-day retail expenditure during the two weeks prior to and following the graduation week was $7.7 million while expenditure during graduation week rose to $8 million (Paymark network transactions only). Transactions through Paymark account for just under 50% of total retail turnover, so the total increase in retail turnover is estimated to be around $0.5 million.
Not all retailers experienced an increase in sales during graduation week, with small declines recorded for general retail and homeware stores (such as furniture, electronic and electrical goods, hardware and department stores) and recreational goods stores.
There was a 49% increase in accommodation expenditure, a 6% increase in apparel store turnover and a 4% increase in food and fuel expenditure (this includes supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, takeaways and bars).
Food and fuel is the largest retail sector in the city, accounting for around 60% of total annual Paymark retail spending in the city and it is estimated graduation week contributed to an increase in spending of around $370,000 on food and fuel.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says graduation is the highlight of the academic year.
"It is a celebration that Massey has traditionally shared with the community in which our graduates have lived and worked, usually for the past three or more years," he said. "Massey greatly values the hospitality shown by the council, by the business community and the community generally for the students and former students and their families and friends, particularly during graduation ceremonies."
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