Visitors spend up

visa-mastercard-credit-card-amexVisitors to New Zealand in February spent $251 million, $31 million more than in February 2014 according to the latest figures released by Paymark.

Foreign card spending was up by 14.1 per cent year on year reflecting Statistics New Zealand’s figures of ongoing growth in tourist numbers.

While the total spending growth year on year was moderate at 4.3 per cent, foreign card spending accounted for 12.6 per cent of all credit card spending and 5.9 per cent of the total spend recorded through the Paymark network in February.

Paymark’s head of customer relations, Mark Spicer, says the moderate growth in February reflects the continuing low fuel prices and the February trend when people return to work and the school year starts.

“There’s a strong seasonal element whereby it’s back to reality for the majority of Kiwis and that shows across most spending,” Spicer said.

In contrast, it’s been a strong month for tourism. Paymark processed credit card transactions from 148 foreign countries during February.

Foreign card spending was highest in Otago where visitors to the country spent 42 per cent more than February 2014, and in Bay of Plenty where foreign spending was up by 26.1 per cent.

The highest number of foreign transactions were via Chinese and US issued credit cards, with Australia and the UK also making a substantial contribution.

“Not surprisingly, more than 60 per cent of the foreign card spending in February came through merchants in the hospitality or tourism sectors such as hotels, cafes and tourist activity operators,” says Spicer.

Other sectors that reaped the benefits of the increasing number of visitors to New Zealand were supermarkets and takeaways, with an extra $2.9 million transacted through overseas credit cards. The clothing, footwear and jewellery sectors received a $2 million boost.

Annual spending growth remains strong in the furniture, hardware and building supply sectors with an increase of 8.9 per cent. This reflects the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand released yesterday showing more than $15 billion worth of building work was carried out in 2014, up $2.8 billion on 2013.

Spending at department stores is up 6.2 per cent year on year, while growth remains slow in the clothing, footwear, and personal accessories sectors with an annual increase of 2.6 per cent.

Taken across all sectors, annual growth rates were again highest in Nelson and Otago, up 10 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively. Areas that experienced negative growth in February include Gisborne, Taranaki, Palmerston North, South Canterbury, and Southland.

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