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New Zealanders moderated their thrashing of plastic cards in February

Monday 11th March 2019

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New Zealanders moderated their spending on electronic cards last month, with increased purchases of groceries, liquor, fuel and hospitality offsetting reduced spending on big-ticket items.

Total retail spending on credit and debit cards grew 0.9 percent in February from January and was down from the 1.8 percent increase reported for January, according to Stats NZ data.

Core retail spending, excluding fuel and vehicle spending, was also up 0.9 percent in February after a 2.2 percent increase in January.

Spending rose in five of the six retail industries. Purchases of durable goods, such as whiteware and furniture, were the exception and fell by 0.2 percent after a 4.9 percent jump in January.

Spending on groceries and liquor rose 1 percent in the month, while spending on fuel was up 1.3 percent and spending in cafes, restaurants and bars was up 0.7 percent.

“The rise in fuel spending coincided with a gradual increase in fuel prices after a period of lower fuel prices,” says Stats NZ retail manager Sue Chapman.

“Sales of durables, such as furniture, hardware and appliances, as well as clothes and shoes, appear to have levelled out in February after a more volatile patch in December and January,” Chapman says.

Apparel sales rose 0.9 percent in the latest month, down from an increase of 3.3 percent in January.

Non-retail spending using cards, such as for travel, health and wholesaling, fell 0.8 percent in February.

Actual retail spending using cards was $5.1 billion in February, up 3.4 percent, or $168 million, from February 2018.

Card spending is shifting away from the use of debit cards to greater use of credit cards.

Debit card use in February accounted for 45.5 percent of total transactions, down from 46.8 percent in February last year.

Reserve Bank figures released last month showed New Zealanders had $7.484 billion outstanding on credit cards in January, up 5 percent from a year earlier.


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