Card spending 'surprisingly soft' in June

Last updated 12:04 09/07/2014

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The winter blues are hitting shoppers with retail spending flat in June, and excluding cars and fuel sales were actually down slightly.

People spent more on fuel as petrol prices went up, but spent less on clothes and things like furniture, hardware and appliances in June.

Statistics NZ figures for sales using electronic cards show retail spending was unchanged in June, after a 1.2 per cent jump in May. The figures cover sales using debit, credit and charge cards through New Zealand merchants.

Core retail spending (which excludes the vehicle-related industries) fell 0.4 per cent in June 2014.

Westpac Bank economists said electronic card spending in June was "surprisingly soft".

But coming after May's very large post-Easter rebound in sales, the June figures still suggested a pick up in spending during the June quarter. For the three months to the end of June retail card spending was up 1.5 per cent, better than the March quarter's 0.8 per cent gain.

But Westpac said that was still not back to the pace of sales growth last year. That was in line with a broader picture from recent figures that the pace of the economic upturn may have passed its peak.

The Statistics NZ figures out earlier today showed spending on fuel was up $12 million or 1.6 per cent in June, as petrol prices rose in the month.

Hospitality sales were up $3.7 million or 0.5 per cent. With a better job market, people are spending more on eating out and food and drinks to have at home, but the pace of improvement may be slowing, economists said.

But durable goods sales of things like furniture, hardware and appliances were down $7.8 million, a drop of 0.7 per cent.

Clothes sales fell 0.4 per cent in June after a strong lift in May.

Overall, retail sales were unchanged.

Including service sector sales and non-retail sectors, the total value of sales in June was up 0.5 per cent. That reflected a rise in spending on things like travel and healthcare.

While retail spending was up in May, that followed a flat patch earlier in the year. In March, retail sales were flat, and rose just 0.4 per cent in April, with the lull reflecting mild autumn weather slowing clothes sales and the impact of the Easter and Anzac Day holidays falling close together.

There were 112 million transactions across all industries in June, with an average value of $51. The total amount spent across all transactions was $5.7 billion.

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