Retail card spending rebounds in January

visa cardRetail card spending rebounded 1.8 per cent in January, following a 2.3 per cent decrease over December, according to data from Stats NZ.

The rise was attributed to a rise in sales of furniture, hardware, appliances and pharmaceuticals, which rose 5.1 per cent or $64 million.

Stats NZ retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said a lag in processing transactions may have contributed to the movements seen between December and January.

Core retail spending rose 2.2 per cent, compared to the 1.7 per cent fall seen in December, with card spending totalling $5.5 billion – up 3.5 per cent from the previous year.

The apparel category rose $8.6 million, or 2.9 per cent, over the period, while hospitality grew 0.4 per cent – or $4.1 million.

Fuel retailing was the only sector to see a decrease in spending, with total card spending down 0.5 per cent, or $2.8 million. This follows a $92 million drop over the September quarter as a result of petrol prices falling from record highs.

“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.”

The fall came soon after the Commerce Commission announced it had begun a market study into factors which affect competition across the fuel industry.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said during a post-cabinet press conference last year that customers were being “fleeced” at the pump.

“I am hugely concerned at the level of price that consumers are currently paying at the pump for fuel,” Arden said, noting the margin on petrol has doubled since 2008 from 7 per cent to 16 per cent.

“That increase represents a transfer of wealth from petrol consumers to producers to the tune of hundreds and millions of dollars a year.”

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