12 Mar 2013

Retail spending rises for fifth month

7:57 am on 12 March 2013

Retail spending using electronic cards has risen for the fifth consecutive month, led by spending on durable goods and food and drink.

Statistics New Zealand figures show spending using debit, credit and charge cards was a seasonally-adjusted 0.8% higher in February than the previous month.

ANZ Bank senior economist Mark Smith said increases on goods like furniture and appliances, and supermarket fare offset lower spending on fuel.

He said a high New Zealand dollar, which makes imported goods more attractive, and a broadening recovery in the housing market is pushing up spending on durable items.

Consumers remain cautious about spending outside their income, with 43% of transactions financed by credit cards, barely unchanged from January and significantly down on its decade-long average of 45%.

Mr Smith said a weak labour market, rises to KiwiSaver contributions from April and the effect of the drought on farming income will weigh on household's spending plans in coming months.

On an annual basis, the pace of growth in spending slowed, rising 2% to $5.4 billion.