Slow spending growth in region 'surprising'

South Canterbury had one of the lowest growth rates in the country for spending via electronic transactions last month.

The latest monthly figures released by Paymark showed the South Canterbury region had a growth rate of just 1.7 per cent on March 2013. This is a slight increase from the previous month's rate of 1.4 per cent.

The chief executive of the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Smith, said it was surprising to see South Canterbury experiencing slower growth, as recent statistics showed strong employment growth, strong GDP growth and strong business unit growth for the Timaru district.

Paymark data was heavily influenced by spending at supermarkets and petrol stations and there was a pattern of higher than usual growth in the major centres, she said.

"It is also worth noting that these are growth figures in percentage terms and South Canterbury still experienced an increase in spend from $65.5 million to $66.4 million, so an increase from a relatively strong base."

Throughout New Zealand, there was a 6.8 per cent increase.

Paymark head of customer relations Mark Spicer said the growth rate seen in the March quarter was similar to that of the previous five quarters and the underlying spending pattern was consistent with continued New Zealand economic growth.

When spending at supermarkets and petrol stations was stripped out, the annual growth rate for spending through the rest of the economy through Paymark was 5.9 per cent, he said.

"Still a good growth rate but below the 6.5 per cent annual average growth for these sectors over the previous six months."

The strongest growth for March was in Auckland, with 6.8 per cent, and the weakest was the on the West Coast, at 0.9 per cent.

The Timaru Herald