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NZ spending on plastic edges up in March

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/04/2016 Paul McBeth

New Zealand retail spending on credit and debit cards rose in March, led by increased expenditure at bars and restaurants as they continue to enjoy the tourism boom.

Retail spending gained 0.1 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in March from February, while actual sales were up 6.2 per cent to $4.95 billion from the same month a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Stripping out spending on fuel and vehicle, core retail spending was up 0.2 per cent in the month.

Hospitality led the monthly gain, rising 0.4 per cent, and was up 12 per cent from March 2015 at $924 million.

Retail and accommodation spending was one of the major limbs of economic growth in the December quarter as record visitor arrivals bolstered the country's tourism spend.

"The surging tourism sector continues to shine through, even in this softer month," ASB Bank economist Kim Mundy said in a note. "This strength is particularly evident in annual hospitality growth spending, which is sitting around a whopping 12 per cent."

The figures show spending on consumables, the biggest component, increased 0.2 per cent in March, and was 6.6 per cent higher than a year earlier at $1.81 billion.

Spending on durables edged up 0.1 per cent in the month, for a 6.2 per cent increase on the year to $1.16 billion. Apparel spending dropped 2.3 per cent in March and was up a more modest 3.5 per cent on the year to $292 million.

Spending on petrol rose 0.3 per cent, ending two months of declines, and was down 1.7 per cent from a year earlier at $598 million. Expenditure on vehicles shrank 0.5 per cent in the month and was 6.5 per cent higher than a year earlier at $160 million.

Total spending on electronic cards rose 5.9 per cent to $6.62 billion in March from a year earlier, across 133 million transactions, up 6.5 per cent on the year.

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