11 Aug 2020

Retail card spending picks up post-lockdown

1:55 pm on 11 August 2020

The post-lockdown spending spree continued last month at record levels.

Close up of a customer hand paying with a contactless credit card reader in a bar

Photo: 123RF

Retail spending using electronic cards rose 1.2 percent in July on the month before to be more than 11 percent up on a year ago.

Spending rose for most retail sectors, with consumers spending more on groceries, clothing, hospitality, and cars than last year.

"Kiwis are continuing to spend up on groceries and beverage-related supplies following another month of loosened restrictions," Stats NZ retail stats manager Kathy Hicks said, adding that spending on eating out had also been strong.

Core spending - which leaves out fuel and vehicle related spending - was up 0.6 percent for the month.

An economist said consumer spending had emerged from the Covid-related hole caused by the lockdown for several reasons.

"Pent-up demand, nest building, the desire to support local and the switch of funds destined for overseas trips have acted to hold up domestic spending," ASB Bank's Mark Smith said.

He warned the rebound was slowing rapidly and the recovery would likely not last.

"Any retail rebound will likely prove to be short-lived, particularly for discretionary spending, with the retail climate likely to soften heading into Christmas," Smith said.

He said the strong figures might overstate the extent of consumer spending because many retailers are not accepting cash payments.

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