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Plastic card spending rises in April

NZN 10/05/2016 Jonathan Underhill

Spending on credit and debit cards in New Zealand rose in April, driven by an increase for accommodation, hotels, restaurants and takeaway food.

Retail spending rose 0.9 per cent in April, seasonally adjusted, after a 0.1 per cent gain in March, Statistics New Zealand said. The biggest gain came from the hospitality industry, where spending rose by 1.5 per cent last month. Actual sales were up 7.8 per cent in April from the same month last year.

Hospitality spending was strong for a second month as New Zealand benefits from record in-bound tourism, even as Easter, a traditional time of celebration, fell in March this year. Five of the six retail industries recorded gains in the latest month, while consumables such as food and liquor, were little changed.

"After pausing for breath in March, consumers threw their wallets open in April," said Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp.

"Helping to support spending are strong levels of tourist arrivals, which have been boosting spending in areas such as hospitality. In addition, low borrowing rates and the strength in the housing market are also providing domestic consumers with a powerful shot in the arm."

He said while the data bodes well for retail spending in coming months, he expects headwinds including lower dairy sector earnings to "start to bite."

Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 0.4 per cent in the month for an 8.9 per cent annual gain, following a 0.2 per cent increase in March.

Total electronic card transactions rose 1.5 per cent in April.

Card-holders made 131 million transactions in April with an average value of $49. The total amount spent across all transactions was $6.4 billion.

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