Christmas shoppers spend up on plastic

Christmas shoppers used plastic cards to spend up on pretty much everything except fuel, Statistics New Zealand says.

The value of electronic card spending in retail industries rose 0.3 percent in December from November. It was the third consecutive monthly increase.

The value of total electronic card transactions rose by 0.4 percent in December.

The data suggested a more healthy retail environment at the end of 2012, ASB economists say.

"A trend of gradually improving retail spending poses little concern to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's inflation outlook, and consumer spending for now remains constrained by high levels of household debt and a somewhat soft labour market," Daniel Smith, an economist at ASB Institutional, says.

He expects the official cash rate to remain on hold until December 2013.

Fuel was the only industry in which the value of transactions fell, down 3.5 percent in December compared with November.

Transactions for core retailing, excluding motor vehicle-related industries, increased 0.5 percent in December.

Electronic purchases of consumables rose 0.8 percent, more than the 0.6 percent rise in durables.

Electronic transactions make up about 65 percent of retail spending. In unadjusted terms there were 122 million transactions in December with an average value of $56.

(BusinessDesk)

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