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NZ spending on credit, debit cards rises in Nov, led by hospitality

Tuesday 9th December 2014

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New Zealanders increased their spending on debit and credit cards in November, with a rise in hospitality and consumable purchases offsetting a decline in apparel and durables.

The value of core retail sales on electronic cards, which strips out spending on fuel and vehicle related items, rose 0.3 percent in November from the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted $3.8 billion, following a 1.1 percent gain in October, Statistics New Zealand said. Including fuel and vehicle spending, total retail spending dropped 0.1 percent to $4.7 billion, reflecting last month’s steep drop in global oil prices.

Credit and debit spending on hospitality rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 2.3 percent to $770 million. Consumables, the largest measure in the series, gained 0.5 percent to $1.7 billion in the month. Apparel spending dropped 1.4 percent to $284 million, the lowest monthly spend since April, while durables fell 1 percent to $1.1 billion.

New Zealanders fuel purchases on electronic cards dropped 2.9 percent in November to $739 million, while vehicle spending rose 1.1 percent to $137 million.

Total spending, which includes non-retail industries and services, fell 0.3 percent to $6.2 billion.

"There were mixed results across the retail industries, with three rising and three falling," Neil Kelly, business indicators manager at Statistics NZ said. "A significant decrease in spending on fuel this month coincided with falls in fuel prices in November."

Today's figures come as local retailers, particularly those in the rag trade, look to the peak Christmas season to bolster sales and deliver earnings growth as they compete with offshore, online retailers, luring consumers with discounted products. Pumpkin Patch, the unprofitable childrenswear chain, has flagged to its shareholders it is at risk of breaching its banking covenants if the season doesn't deliver, while rivals Kathmandu Holdings and Warehouse Group have reported challenging conditions and squeezed margins in the lead up to Christmas.

Yesterday, data from electronic payments provider Paymark showed the Christmas season was off to a slow start, as it recorded retail spending rose 4.9 percent in the first seven days of December, slower than the 8.6 percent pace in the same week last year.

On an unadjusted basis, core retail spending climbed 4.1 percent from the same month the previous year to $4 billion, with hospitality surging 12.1 percent to $788 million, consumable increasing 4.3 percent to $1.7 billion and durables rising 1.6 percent to $1.2 billion. Apparel declined 5.2 percent in the year to $293 million.

Total retail sales rose 3.3 percent to $4.9 billion, while total spending increased 2.7 percent to $6.4 billion.

The number of core retail transactions rose 6.3 percent from November a year earlier to 92 million, and was up 6.6 percent across all industries to 125 million. The average value per transaction was unchanged at $51.

Spending on debit cards made up 54.4 percent of total transactions down from 55.1 percent in October.


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