Kiwi credit card debt on the rise

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 12:14 13/08/2014

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Consumers are increasingly pulling out their credit cards to pay for purchases, eftpos company Paymark says.

Total spending through the Paymark network in July was up 6.1 per cent compared to the same month last year, according to figures released today.

However, spending growth through the bank-owned network has slowed since July last year, when the growth rate was 9.2 per cent.

The Paymark figures also indicate more people are making purchases on credit rather than from their bank accounts.

Credit-card spending through Paymark grew by 15.8 per cent over the year while spending on debit cards grew by 4.9 per cent.

The latest statistics from the Reserve Bank showed total personal credit-card debt stood at $5.8 billion in May, up by a seasonally adjusted 4.9 per cent compared with the previous May.

Paymark's data showed a marked increase in spending in the Otago region during the July school holidays.

While spending usually increases during the school holidays, this year saw an increase of 9.4 per cent in Otago during the two-week period, well above previous years, Paymark said.

Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said it was likely that visiting Aucklanders and Wellingtonians had had a hand in Otago's spending growth.

"During the same two weeks of trading when Otago experienced this significant jump, Auckland/Northland and Wellington saw a significant decrease in spending compared to previous years," Spicer said.

"While this doesn't explain the entire picture it's safe to assume that many North Islanders ventured south to Queenstown and scenic Otago."

Spending in the Bay of Plenty and Southland was also strong in July, with an annual increase of 6.7 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, Paymark said.

Regions that experienced weak trading during July included Wellington, with annual growth of 2.7 per cent, Palmerston North, with an increase of 2.8 per cent and South Canterbury, down 0.3 per cent.

Across the country, the sectors showing the highest annual growth were food and liquor stores, up 11.6 per cent, followed by cafes and restaurants at 11.2 per cent and accommodation providers with a 9.7 per cent increase.

Spending also increased in clothing outlets, footwear stores, appliance outlets and department stores, most likely a result of the late onset of winter, Paymark said.

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