Retail spending extends decline in August
Retail spending on credit and debit cards decreased 0.2 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms from July, having fallen 0.5 per cent that month, Statistics New Zealand said in a statement.
Total spending, including non-retail industries, increased 0.6 per cent in August from a month earlier.
“In part, this subdued growth in spending levels reflects the softness in prices, particularly for imported consumer goods,” Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.
“However, it’s likely that the softening in the housing market is also playing a role in depressing household spending.”
Consumer confidence has remained relatively upbeat this year as a strong labour market and recovery in dairy prices kept household incomes stable, while weaker retail spending in recent months has largely been due to cheap fuel.
Monday’s figures show credit and debit card spending on fuel rose 0.4 per cent in August, snapping five months of declines, while hospitality decreased 0.1 per cent, following a 0.8 per cent fall in July.
Spending on durables slipped 0.1 per cent, its first decline in five months, while expenditure on consumables rose for a third month, up 0.2 per cent.
Vehicles spending rose 0.9 per cent in August, its third gain in a row.
Ranchhod said he expects moderate spending growth in the coming months, with the “slowdown in the housing market a key drag”.
The figures show actual retail spending climbed 4.4 per cent to $4.9 billion in August from the same month a year ago.
Card-holders across all industries made 139 million transactions in August versus 137 million in July. The average value was $48.