13 Apr 2015

Card spending at nine-year high

3:59 pm on 13 April 2015

Lower petrol prices have fuelled quarterly spending on credit, debit and charge cards to rise at their greatest pace in nine years.

credit card

Photo: 123rf

A senior economist at ANZ, Philip Borkin says cheaper petrol coupled with low mortgage rates and high house prices are encourging people to open their wallets wider.

He says consumers are spending the extra cash saved by a 40 percent fall in petrol prices over the last three months.

Official figures show seasonally adjusted retail spending is up by 0.8 percent to $4.7 billion in March, following a 1.1 percent rise in February.

Not only has spending risen for the second month in a row, on a quarterly basis it is up by more than 2.5 percent - the strongest pace since 2006.

A senior economist at Westpac, Felix Delbruck, said it was another sign consumers were feeling more confident about the economy.

He also believed low mortgage rates, rising house prices and cheaper petrol were encouraging people to spend more on consumables and big-ticket items like appliances and cars.

The electronic cards data, which covers about 68 percent of core retail sales, is the main measure of monthly retail activity.