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Mixed results in October card spending

customer, pay, POS, card, checkoutRetail spending using electronic cards was $4.9 billion in October 2015, up $260 million (5.6 per cent) from October 2014, Statistics New Zealand said today. Total sales, which includes services and non-retail industries were little changed at $6.37 billion, for an annual gain of 5.2 per cent.

NZ retail spending on electronic cards expanded at the slowest pace in four months in October as an increase in consumable sales was eroded by weakness in durables, hospitality and apparel.

Spending on core retail, which strips out fuel and vehicle purchases, increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2 per cent in October from September, Statistics NZ said. That is the slowest pace since June, when spending advanced 0.1 per cent. On an annual basis, core retail spending rose 7.6 per cent, the agency said.

NZ economic growth is weakening amid softer demand for its commodity products from key markets such as China, and as activity slows in the rebuilding of earthquake damaged Christchurch. Still, record migration and tourism numbers and low interest rates continue to underpin activity.

“While high levels of migration and strong tourist demand continue to provide support, over the coming months we expect to see some softening in spending growth,” Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod said in a note. “Employment growth has already slowed. In addition, the economy will face significant headwinds over the coming year from softness in global trade, drought, and the levelling off of the Canterbury rebuild.”

Spending on consumable goods rose 0.9 per cent to $1.73 billion in October from September, the biggest gain since January. Meanwhile, spending on durables slipped for the first time since April, down 0.5 per cent to $1.18 billion, and spending on hospitality stalled at $815 million. Apparel spending dropped 0.7 per cent to $296 million, the biggest decline since June.

There were 130 million transactions on electronic cards in October, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. The average value of transactions was $50, with 55 per cent put on to debit cards, and the remainder going on to credit. Electronic cards make up 67.8 per cent of core retail sales, and 61.7 per cent of total sales processed in NZ.

Values are only available at the national level, and are not adjusted for price changes.

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