Quiet card spending suggests slow Christmas for retailers

visa cardRetail card spending fell by 0.2 per cent over the December quarter, suggesting a slower Christmas for NZ retailers, according to data from Stats NZ.

While this drop followed a strong increase during the September 2018 quarter of 2.1 per cent, Stats NZ retail statistics manager Sue Chapman noted growth in December was softer than usual, which led to lower sales.

Despite the overall drop in spending, four of the six retail industries tracked in the data saw spending increases, with the ‘food and liquor’ industry seeing the largest increase – up $62 million, or 1 per cent, compared to the prior quarter.

The apparel category saw a $2.3 million fall in spending, while fuel retailing saw a $92 million drop in spending over the period, coinciding with petrol prices falling from record highs.

Card spending Dec Q18
Source: Stats NZ


“By the end of the December quarter, petrol prices has come down nearly 40 cents a litre,” Chapman said.

“[However], those savings at the pump don’t appear to have leaked across to other retail industries.”

Compared to December 2017, retail card spending rose 0.6 per cent, or $40 million, to $6.8 billion.

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