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Electronic card spending dips in February

NZN 9/03/2017 Sophie Boot

New Zealand seasonally adjusted retail spending on electronic cards fell in February, failing to continue January's gain.

Retail spending on credit and debit cards fell a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent last month, after a 2.7 per cent increase in January, the biggest monthly increase since January 2006, Statistics New Zealand said.

Actual retail spending climbed 2.6 per cent to $4.8 billion in February from the same month a year earlier, though February 2016 had an extra day of trading as it was a leap year.

"The fall in total card spending in February was driven by a lull in furniture, electronics, and department store purchases," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said.

The Reserve Bank is keeping a close watch on consumer spending after an unexpectedly strong gain in consumption through the second half of last year, and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has noticed people are more willing to fund retail purchases with debt.

Friday's figures show core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, dropped 0.7 per cent in February from January, with spending on durables - which includes furniture, hardware, electronics and pharmaceuticals - down 2.1 per cent, turning around a 3.2 per cent increase in that category in January.

Hospitality spending fell 1.2 per cent and apparel was down 3.3 per cent.

Spending on fuel rose 2.8 per cent, while vehicle spending slipped 0.6 per cent.

In actual terms, card-holders made 128 million transactions in February, down from 133 million in January, with an average value of $50.

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