Quake-hit Canterbury could be seeing the first signs of recovery, with the embattled region recording the fastest growth in spending across the country, new figures show.
The Paymark data released today show that Canterbury reported an annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent, soaring above the nationwide growth rate for June of 5.1 per cent.
While the figures are "heartening", it still has a long way to go to reach its pre-earthquake position, Paymark head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston said.
"We saw a sharp decline in spending following the February earthquake last year, however June's positive result is a heartening sign that the region may be showing signs of a recovery.
"While spending in Canterbury is currently running well above earlier years, it's important to note that spending in the region is perhaps still 5-10 per cent behind where it may have been without the earthquakes.
"If we look at first-half year spending through the Paymark network nationwide in 2012, compared with four years ago when we were experiencing the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, we've seen 12.2 per cent growth. If you compare that with the growth since 2008 in the Canterbury region, it sits at just 4.4 per cent," said Whiston.
By contrast, Auckland/Northland's four-year growth was higher than the national average at 14.8 per cent and Wellington saw a 9.3 per cent increase.
"This suggests that there's still a way to go for the region to catch up, and after visiting Christchurch last week and speaking to several business people, there are still some sectors doing it tough," Whiston added.
For New Zealand in total, Paymark figures show that non-fuel spending increased for the third consecutive month once seasonal factors were taken into account.
Whiston said: "We've been witnessing better than usual spending in recent months - June continued this trend, no doubt in part due to the lower petrol prices over the month."
In terms of growth sectors, Kiwis are seizing the opportunity to dine out despite winter temperatures, with accelerated spending recorded in many parts of the hospitality industry, and cafes and restaurants reporting an annual growth of 9.3 per cent.
Annual growth was also high amongst clothing shops, which were up 13 per cent in June.
Many building related merchants continued to report higher spending this year, with home decorating and hardware stores up 7.2 per cent. Modest annual growth was also recorded amongst travel companies at 2 per cent, a turnaround from previous months.
Nationwide, during June, the number of monthly card transactions was 4.5 per cent higher than a year ago, with credit card transactions (+6.6 per cent) continuing to grow faster than debit cards (+3.9 per cent).