Spending on electronic cards fell in August, led by a decline at hospitality venues after two strong tourist-fuelled months.
Retail spending fell a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent last month following a 0.2 per cent increase in July, Statistics New Zealand said.
Actual retail spending rose 3.7 per cent to $4.7 billion in August from the same month last year, with fuel the only one of six industry sectors measured to fall, down 6.1 per cent in a move that reflected lower petrol and diesel prices.
Hospitality spending, which includes accommodation, bars, cafes and restaurants, and takeaway retailing, fell 1.5 per cent, seasonally adjusted in August from July, following a jump of 3.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively in the previous two months.
Consumables, which includes grocery and liquor retailing, fell 0.5 per cent in the first decline for four months. Spending on durables was unchanged in the latest month while spending on apparel fell 0.7 per cent. Core retail spending, which excludes fuel and vehicle-related industries, fell 0.6 per cent.
"While some softening had been expected after recent strong gains, the extent of today's decline was unexpected," said Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp.
"However this follows strong gains over the past two months which were boosted by elevated tourist numbers, and it was inevitable that we'd see some softening as tourist numbers eased back to more normal levels."
He said ongoing strength in the housing market probably underpinned spending on durables, which include home furnishings.
The total value of electronic card spending including the two non-retail industries - non-retail excluding services and services - fell 0.8 per cent in August.
In actual terms, card-holders made 131 million transactions across all industries in August 2016, with an average value of $49. The total amount spent across all transactions was $6.4 billion.