New Zealand shoppers spent more on their debit and credit cards last month, particularly at retailers in the building industry and health sector, according to figures out today.
Paymark, which processes about three quarters of the country's electronic transactions, said the total value of spending through its network in January was 5.1 per cent more than a year ago.
Although the total spending value of $3.96 billion was actually lower than December, it was 0.6 per cent more on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Spending on housing-related items continued to increase - plumbing outlets experienced 17.8 per cent growth year-on-year, hardware and home decorating stores 11.6 per cent, and gardening stores 7.6 per cent.
Growth in the health sector suggested Kiwis were looking for a healthy start to 2013, Paymark said. Dentists saw 17.2 per cent growth compared to last January, medical centres 10.1 per cent and optometrists 9.1 per cent.
The gains were good news after only "modest" spending during the Christmas shopping season, said Paymark chief executive Simon Tong.
But despite positive overall figures, things were still tough for some retailers and in some regions.
"A number of sectors such as accommodation providers and consumer electronics retailers have experienced below average growth," Tong said.
"Likewise, spending growth was weak in the West Coast and Southland."
Looking at the regions, Canterbury had the strongest annual spending growth of 8 per cent annually. Waikato spending increased 7.6 per cent.
The automotive sector saw growth in both repairs and servicing, up 14 per cent, and parts and accessories, up 9.7 per cent.
The volume of card transactions last month was 6.3 per cent higher than a year ago.
"Importantly, New Zealanders are still increasingly finding card payment to be convenient - for purchases both big and small," Tong said.
"Nationwide in 2012, we increased our card spending by $1.5 billion. We hope to see this positive growth trend continue in 2013, and January has been a good start on balance."