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Card spending suggests little festive cheer for retailers

Wednesday 16th January 2019

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Retail spending using electronic cards over the key Christmas period suggests retailers found little to cheer about in the festive season.

Spending on cards fell a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent in the month of December from November and was down 0.2 percent in the December quarter compared with the September quarter on the same basis, according to Statistics New Zealand.

That's despite actual figures showing that spending of $6.8 billion in December was up $40 million from a year earlier, and increased by $616 million to $18 billion in the December quarter from the same quarter of 2017.

“Growth in December was softer than usual, so in seasonally adjusted terms we are seeing lower sales as a result,” Stats NZ retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said. “The dip in the December 2018 quarter came after a strong September quarter.” 

While much of the quarterly decline reflected the fall of nearly 40 cents per litre in petrol prices over the December quarter, “those savings at the pump don’t appear to have leaked across to other retail industries,” Chapman said.

Excluding vehicle-related industries, core retail spending rose 0.5 percent in the latest quarter after a 1.9 percent increase in the September quarter.

Spending on fuel fell by $92 million, or 4.7 percent, in the December quarter, while spending on food and liquor fell $62 million, or 1 percent.

In the month of December, spending on durables such as electronics, whiteware, hardware and furniture fell $58 million, or 4.4 percent, from November. Spending on fuel was down $50 million or 8 percent.

Sales of clothes and shoes fell 2.1 percent in the month of December, spending on hospitality was flat, and sales of supermarket food and drink rose just 0.6 percent.

(BusinessDesk)

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