Rise in retail card spending seen as signal

Updated at 7:29 pm on 12 February 2013

Electronic retail card spending edged higher in January for the fourth successive month, led by food and alcohol sales.

Official figures show spending using debit, credit and charge cards, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in January, compared with the previous month.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon says the figures suggest the economy is continuing to pick up.

Spending on durable goods, clothing, and accomodation and eating out all declined.

On an annual basis, the pace of growth rose by 5.8% to $4.6 billion.

Electronic card figures cover about 65% of retail sales.

Mr Gordon says that spending through electronic cards is showing a "fairly modest" increase, but because inflation is still subdued, the perception is one of continued recovery after the rececession.

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