Retail card spending was flat in March, which was no great
surprise to the market given the strong increase in spending
seen in February.
Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday showed
total electronic card transactions in March did not move at
all against the February figure. In the year ended March,
transactions grew by 5.8%.
Excluding auto sector sales, card transactions grew 0.1% for
the month and 5.6% for the year.
Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck said some of the
weakness was likely to be due to the later timing of Easter
this year. But even taking that into account, the trend in
card spending had clearly slowed in the three months to
ASB economist Daniel Smith said most of the weakness in March
spending came in the apparel category, where spending was
down 2.4% from February.
''Again, that is not all that surprising given excellent
late-summer weather will have delayed many winter clothing
purchases. The same pattern was seen last year.''
Overall, clothing spending had fluctuated a lot from month to
month but had been growing slowly over the past couple of
years, he said. First-quarter spending was up by around 4%
from the same three months last year.
Elsewhere, there were no major shifts in spending during
The largest category, consumables, recorded a 0.4% increase
in spending. Annual growth in the category remained ''fairly
lacklustre'' at 3%, Mr Smith said.
''We do expect some pick-up over 2014 as strong population
growth feeds into spending in supermarkets and other
Hospitality spending continued to grow, up another 0.5% in
Strong consumer confidence had seen Kiwis eating and drinking
out more and strong visitor arrival numbers had boosted