12 Jun 2012

Spending using electronic cards rises in May

6:26 pm on 12 June 2012

People spent more on their credit, debit and charge cards in May.

Statistics New Zealand figures show retail spending using electronic cards rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.9%in May. There had been a similar gain in April.

People spent more on fuel, clothes, footwear, household appliances and furniture, but less on consumables like food and alcohol.

Fuel retailing accounted for much of the pickup, and when that is stripped out, core retail spending rose 0.8% compared to a 0.7% gain in the previous month.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon says the overall pickup was stronger than expected, but the monthly data can be volatile.

"It's sort of been steady growth for a while now, if you try and strip out things like the World Cup where there was a blip up in spending, it looks like it's been about this 5% year on year growth pace for at least the last year. So it's not inconsistent with the story that people are reducing debt."

On an annual basis, retail spending using electronic cards rose 6.7% in the year to the end of May.

The electronic card data, which covers about 60% of retail sales, is a key measure of monthly retail activity.