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Spring lift in card spending

Retail card spending saw a slight spring forward in September 2019, mainly driven by consumer spending on household essentials, such as groceries, Stats NZ said today.

Retail card spending rose 0.4 percent in September, following a 1.2 percent rise in August 2019, when adjusted for seasonal effects.

The largest movement came from a rise in spending on groceries and liquor (consumables), up $16 million (0.8 percent) from August 2019.

“This is the second month in a row with growth in grocery retailing,” retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.

“The increased spending on the basics of food and drink comes after a recent lull in grocery spending between April and July.”

Spending on durables, such as electronics, hardware, furniture, and appliances, and in the hospitality industries showed the next largest increases, both rose by $4.9 million (0.4 percent).

Spending on clothes and shoes (apparel) decreased the most in September, down $12 million (4.0 percent), partly reversing a 5.3 percent increase in August.

“Sales of spring clothing and footwear may have been dampened by the unsettled cooler weather experienced over the country through September,” Ms Hicks said.

Core retail spending, which excludes spending on fuel and vehicles, rose 0.6 percent in September, after a 1.4 percent rise in August.

The total value of electronic card spending, including the two non-retail categories (services and non-retail), rose 0.6 percent ($48 million) in September, following a 1.3 percent rise in August.

In actual terms, retail spending using electronic cards was $5.2 billion, up 0.3 percent ($15 million) from September 2018.

Retail card spending lifts in September quarter

When adjusted for seasonal effects, retail card spending was up 0.8 percent in the September 2019 quarter, following a 0.2 percent rise in the June 2019 quarter.

“The rise in card spending in the September quarter was driven by increased spending on groceries and liquor,” Ms Hicks said.

Spending rose across four of the six retail industries. The largest increase was in the consumables industry, up $63 million (1.0 percent). This was followed by hospitality, up $38 million (1.2 percent). The durables industry, which includes electronics, furniture, hardware, appliances, and pharmaceutical retailing, was up $35 million (0.9 percent).

Core retail spending, which excludes the vehicle-related industries, rose 0.9 percent, after a 0.6 percent rise in the June 2019 quarter.

Actual retail spending using electronic cards was $16 billion in the September quarter, up $246 million (1.6 percent) from the September 2018 quarter.

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

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