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Electronic card spending during December was up almost 1% and all transactions were worth $7.2 billion, led by large gains in the apparel and hospitality sectors.
Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said yesterday electronic card spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.9% in the core retail industries during December - the third consecutive monthly increase.
SNZ industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said hospitality had the largest rise, then the consumables and apparel industries.
''Shoppers spent more in all four core retail industries, three of which had reasonably large rises in December,'' he said.
Hospitality was up 2.1%, consumables (including food and liquor) up 0.7% and apparel up 3%.
In unadjusted SNZ data, there were 128 million transaction across all industries in December, with an average value of $56, totalling nearly $7.2 billion.
Separate data last week from Paymark, which processes 75% of the country's electronic transactions, showed more than $270 million was spent in Otago during December, up at least $17.4 million on a year ago.
National Paymark spending in December was up 7.5% at more than $5 billion.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the SNZ card transaction data suggested a ''strong finish'' to 2013. Sales were strong for both the month of December and the quarter to December, which was in line with the ASB's expectations.
''We expect private consumption to make a stronger contribution to overall economic growth in the fourth quarter than in [the previous] third quarter,'' Mr Tuffley said.
The cards transactions data reinforced the broader story of ongoing economic recovery, led by housing, construction and consumer spending growth.
''We continue to expect the Reserve Bank to first lift the official cash rate in March this year,'' Mr Tuffley said in a statement yesterday.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the 0.9% December rise followed a ''modest'' 0.3% rise in November, with year-on-year growth rising from 5.8% to 6.5%.
Spending rose across all but one of the major categories. Spending on vehicles was flat, while fuel sales were up 1.2%, which was partly due to higher prices, Mr Gordon said in a statement.
SPENDING in December
Hospitality $14m (up 2.1%)
Consumables $11m (up 0.7%)
Apparel $9m (up 3%)
SOURCE: STATISTICS NZ