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Electronic cards spending falls again

NZN 11/04/2017 Tina Morrison

New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards fell for a second month in March, following a strong gain in January.

Retail spending on credit and debit cards fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent last month, following a 0.6 per cent decline in February, in part reflecting a fall in petrol prices, Statistics New Zealand said.

The declines come after a 2.7 per cent increase in January, the biggest monthly increase since January 2006.

Spending fell in three of the six retail industries in March, the agency said

Fuel retailing recorded the largest decline, down 1.9 per cent, followed by a 0.3 per cent fall in durables spending and a 0.2 per cent drop in consumables spending.

"The fall in retail card spending in the March month was driven by a decrease in fuel spending, which coincides with a price drop of fuel," Stats NZ business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said.

"However, fuel spending for the March quarter remained high."

The Reserve Bank is keeping a close watch on consumer spending after an unexpectedly strong consumption surge through the second half of last year, amid concerns people are more willing to fund retail purchases with debt.

Tuesday's figures show core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, dropped 0.1 per cent in March from February. Bucking the trend, hospitality spending edged up 0.1 per cent, apparel spending increased 0.8 per cent and vehicle spending rose 1.5 per cent.

Of the non-retail industries, non-retail excluding services advanced 0.6 per cent from February while spending in the services industry rose 1.1 per cent.

Actual retail spending climbed 5.6 per cent to $5.2 billion in March from the same month a year earlier.

Card-holders made 143 million transactions in March, up from 128 million in February and 133 million in March last year, with an average value of $49.

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