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NZ electronic card spending climbs in August

New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards rose in August as payments on fuel surged, following a downward revision to the previous month's figures.

Seasonally adjusted total retail spending on credit and debit cards rose 1 percent after lifting 0.2 percent in July, Statistics New Zealand said. Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 0.7 percent, after increasing 0.3 percent in July.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the 1.1 percent gain in spending, including services, was ahead of market forecasts, though it was offset by a downward revision of the July growth to 0.2 percent from the previous figure of 0.7 percent.

"Based on updated data, fuel spending in July was revised from a 1.8 percent rise to a 0.3 percent fall," Gordon said. "This new figure is surprising given the rise in fuel prices over the month (including the introduction of the Auckland regional fuel tax)."

Today's data shows card spending rose in all of the six retail industries in August. Spending on fuel advanced 4.1 percent while seasonally adjusted consumables spending, which covers grocery and liquor retailing, rose 0.6 percent in the month. Spending on apparel such as clothing, footwear and accessories rose 2.6 percent, after July's 1.8 percent fall.

“Fuel prices rose in August compared with July, contributing to the lift in fuel spending,” said retail statistics manager Sue Chapman. “Fuel spending on electronic cards has generally risen over the last year.”

Actual total retail spending using electronic cards increased 6.3 percent in August to $5.2 billion compared with the same month a year earlier.

Card-holders across all industries made 146 million transactions in the month, up from 143 million in July. The average value of $49 was unchanged on the month and up $1 from a year ago.

"Growth in consumer spending has slowed in the last couple of years as the housing market has cooled. However, we’ve recently seen a boost to many households’ disposable incomes via the Government’s Families Package, which came into effect on 1 July," Westpac's Gordon said. "And this extra assistance has tended to go to the households that are most likely to spend it. So we wouldn’t be surprised to see a temporary lift in consumer spending over the second half of this year."

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