Card spending up in June, but forecast to slow down

Consumers spent more across all industries in June, from food and drink to petrol, Statistics New Zealand says.

Releasing the monthly Electronic Card Spending data this week, retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said when adjusted for seasonal effects, retail card spending rose 0.8% in June, up from a 0.6% rise in May.

The lift in retail card spending was across the board, she said.

Increased spending was seen in food and liquor, furniture, hardware and appliances, petrol and cars. There was also an increase in clothing and footwear spending.

The pick-up in spending on clothing and footwear could be attributed to the start of winter, she said.

Despite the increase, economists predicted spending would soften during the rest of the year.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said retail spending growth on cards fell 0.7% in the three months ended June from March.

It was the lowest quarterly growth rate since the 2017 election.

Declining momentum was evident in all major subgroups.

The outlook for consumer spending looked modest given offsetting influences, he said.

From July, the Government's Family Package and Winter Energy Payment would boost some household incomes. Wage inflation was also starting to stir.

''However, lower readings for consumer confidence, slowing employment growth, prospective rises in petrol prices and the flat housing market were expected to cap increases in core spending.''

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod agreed with Mr Tuffley.

He expected spending growth to remain weak for the remainder of the year. In large part, it was due to the impact of policy changes aimed at cooling the housing market, which would have flow-on effects for household spending.

Population growth was expected to reduce from current high levels, he said.

Statistics NZ figures showed spending fell in three of the six retail industries in the June quarter. The largest fall came from the consumables (grocery and liquor retailing) industry down $36million, or 0.6%. The latest fall followed an $88million rise in the March quarter.

The durables industry, which included hardware, furniture and appliances, was up $26million, or 0.7% in the June quarter, following a 1.4% rise in March.

Core spending, which excluded vehicle-related industries, was flat, down 0.2% in June after a 1.8% increase in March.

In actual terms, retail card spending was $15billion in the June quarter, up $518million from the June 2017 quarter.

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