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Lower fuel spending dents retail card sales

12 April 2019

Fuel spending was down due to lower fuel prices in the March quarter, while spending in the remaining industries was up, Stats NZ said today.

When adjusted for seasonal effects, fuel retail card spending fell 6.2 percent ($116 million) from the December 2018 quarter.

“The fall in fuel retail spending was driven by the lowest fuel prices since October 2017, coming after the high of more than $2.40 a litre in late 2018,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

“Fuel prices dropped to just over $2 per litre in January 2019, rising to $2.20 by the end of the quarter.”

See Weekly fuel price monitoring for provisional petrol prices provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Total retail card spending rose 1.0 percent in the March 2019 quarter. This increase followed a 0.3 percent decrease in the December 2018 quarter.

Despite the fall in fuel, growth continued for the core retail industries (excluding fuel and motor vehicles), up $219 million (1.6 percent) from the December 2018 quarter.

In actual terms, total retail card spending was $16 billion in the March 2019 quarter, up $395 million (2.5 percent) from the March 2018 quarter. However, the rate of increase has slowed, driven by the 8.8 percent decrease in fuel retail card spending compared with the same quarter last year.

Retail spending down in March month

When adjusted for seasonal effects, total retail spending fell 0.3 percent ($17 million) in the March 2019 month, after rises of 0.6 percent and 2.0 percent in the February and January months respectively. The decrease is largely attributed to the fall in the durables industry (appliances, electronics, and hardware), down 1.9 percent.

“Spending on groceries, fuel, and other necessities was up in the March month, while spending on more discretionary items such as appliances, electronics, and new clothing was down,” Ms Chapman said.

“Fuel spending was up $4.2 million (0.7 percent), and consumables such as groceries were up $11 million (0.5 percent) on the previous month,” Ms Chapman added.

Core retail spending fell 0.2 percent in March 2019, after a 0.7 percent rise in February.

The total value of electronic card spending, including the two non-retail categories (services and non-retail), fell 0.2 percent in March 2019. This follows a 0.2 percent rise in February.

In actual terms, total retail spending using electronic cards was $5.6 billion, up $40 million (0.7 percent) from March 2018.

Values are only available at the national level and are not adjusted for price changes.

The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.

For more information about these statistics:
• Visit Electronic card transactions: March 2019
• See CSV files for download


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