15 Jun 2012

Businesses still appear wary of credit

7:03 am on 15 June 2012

Businesses still appear to be wary of credit, even though consumers are showing an increased appetite for borrowing.

Credit reporting agency Veda says consumer credit inquiries rose 11% between March and May, and were up 14% on May last year.

But demand for commercial credit fell 18% in the year to May.

Mortgage applications made up much of the increase, as lower interest rates and attractive offers lured borrowers.

Veda managing director John Roberts says it's a positive sign, and shows New Zealanders are increasingly comfortable with borrowing money again.

Mr Roberts expects demand for consumer credit to continue to pick up, but not to levels recorded in boom times.

He says it's getting to the point where what's known as the natural replacement cycle is kicking in.

Mr Roberts says people have been holding off replacing items like cars, washing machines and fridges, where as they would have been replaced in more buoyant times.

He says it's now getting to the stage where people will have to start replacing some of these items.

But Mr Roberts says businesses don't share the same confidence as consumers, with demand for commercial credit falling 18% in the year to May.

"The New Zealand market is made up of SMEs, small to medium sized enterprises, and they just simply have not got that business confidence to get out there and reinvest in machinery and equipment and their businesses".

He says the commercial market is thought to lag the consumer market by up to 18 months, so the return of commercial lending is not expected until the end of 2013.