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Tourism spurs big July lift in card spend

NZN 9/08/2016 Paul McBeth

Spending on electronic cards rose strongly last month, led by the biggest monthly gain in hospitality expenditure since November as the sector continues to enjoy the benefits of an expanding population and booming tourism numbers.

Retail spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent in July, slowing from the 1.2 per cent increase in June, Statistics New Zealand said. However, spending on hospitality was up 2.9 per cent in July, the largest area of increase. Spending on fuel dropped 3.6 per cent as cheap oil continues to reduce costs for motorists. Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related items, was up 0.7 per cent in the month.

"People spent more on accommodation and on food and drinks in restaurants and takeaway shops," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.

"In contrast, they spent less on fuel, with petrol prices falling about 10 cents a litre in July."

The hospitality sector has been reaping the benefits of New Zealand's prolonged tourism boom at the same time as record net migration numbers have boosted the population.

Tuesday's data show electronic card spending on hospitality in July was 18 per cent higher than a year earlier at $925 million. Core retail spending was up 8.3 per cent at $4.11 billion in July from a year earlier, with expenditure on consumable goods gaining 5.5 per cent to $1.74b, durables items up 6.5 per cent to $1.15b, and apparel spending up 5.1 per cent to $291b.

By contrast, credit and debit card spending on fuel dropped 8.6 per cent to $571m. Spending on vehicles rose 4.7 per cent to $161m from a year earlier, and total retail spending increased 5.8 per cent to $4.84b.

Including services and non-retail industries, spending on electronic cards increased 4.5 per cent to $6.53b in July from the same month a year earlier.

The number of transactions across all industries rose 7.7 per cent to 134 million, while core retail sales transactions were up 8.2 per cent to 99 million from July 2015. The average value per transaction was $49.

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