10 Sep 2013

Consumers getting out the plastic

7:02 pm on 10 September 2013

Higher spending on durable goods such as whiteware and furniture has pushed up retail spending using electronic cards.

Official figures, released on Tuesday morning, show spending using debit, credit and charge cards, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% in August, compared with the previous month.

Spending at the nation's shops and malls using cards has been robust, underpinned by improving economic activity and higher house prices.

Excluding volatile car and vehicle part numbers, core retail spending jumped 1.1% last month.

It was the largest monthly increase in more than two years.

The chief economist of ASB, Nick Tuffley, says increased housing market activity is boosting the durables sector.

"We have for quite some time seen spending in durables lifting up, and a lot of that will be coming through the strength in the housing market.

"So turnover this year is higher than what it would have averaged last year and we're still seeing prices going up as well."

People spent more on durable goods (up 2.8%) and clothing (up 1.1%), reversing falls in July, and on food and drink.

Annual spending grew a healthy 5.5% but inflation pressures in the sector remained subdued due to stiff competition among retailers and the high value of the dollar.