New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards was unchanged in June as hospitality - largely linked to the British and Irish Lions rugby tour - offset lower fuel prices.

Retail spending on credit and debit cards was unchanged in seasonally adjusted terms from May, following a 0.4 per cent fall in May, Statistics New Zealand said.

"Retail spending in the June month was flat because the high hospitality spending was offset by the low fuel prices," business indicators manager Sue Chapman said.

"The increased spending on hospitality could be largely a result of the influx of British and Irish Lions fans."

Advertisement

The Lions tour kicked off on 3 June and ended on 8 July.

Four of the six retail industries rose in May, with hospitality up 2.4 per cent and the consumables industry - which includes grocery and liquor retailing - increasing 0.8 per cent in the month, while the durables industry inched up 0.1 per cent. Fuel retailing dropped 3.2 per cent and apparel fell 0.9 per cent. Vehicle spending - excluding fuel - rose 0.3 per cent.

ASB Bank economist Nathan Penny said spending was softer than expected, in particular in areas like apparel and consumables. "We had expected a more buoyant result. It's a little weaker than anticipated."

The Reserve Bank is keeping a close watch on consumer spending for any signs of inflationary pressures but "there is no smoking gun here," said Penny. The central bank has indicated it will keep rates on hold until at least September 2019, given the lack of domestic inflation.

Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 0.8 per cent on month in June after falling 0.3 per cent in May.

Of the non-retail industries, spending on non-retail excluding services was unchanged from May while spending in the services industry rose 1 per cent.

Actual retail spending climbed 4.5 per cent to $4.9 billion in June from the same month a year ago.

Card-holders across all industries made 135 million transactions in June versus 139 million in May and 134 million in April. The average value in June was $49.

On a quarterly basis Stats NZ said spending in the retail industries rose 0.7 per cent in the June 2017 quarter, after a 1.5 per cent rise in the March 2017 quarter.

"The rise in retail card spending in the June quarter was driven by an increase in consumables and hospitality spending," Stats NZ's Chapman said. "However, this increase in retail spending was moderated by a strong decrease in fuel spending."