New Zealanders' credit and debit card spending fell in September, snapping August's gains after kiwis cut down how much they spent on consumable items such as food and liquor.

The seasonally adjusted value of total transactions declined 0.6 per cent to $5.6 billion, according to Statistics New Zealand. Spending on consumables eased 0.6 per cent to $1.5 billion, the largest fall in any industry.

"Card spending fell in all four core retail industries this month, with consumables having the largest fall," acting industry and labour statistics manager Tehseen Islam said in a statement.

"This is a turnaround from August when all the core retail industries had rises."


The September figures follow a strong gain in August and come after the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion showed retailers were gradually recovering from the slump a few years ago.

The trends for the core retail and the total series remain positive but the rate of growth has weakened in recent months, the government statistician said. The retail trend continues to remain positive but has eased since May 2012.

Spending on fuel rose 0.2 per cent to $692 million. That follows August's 11 per cent jump, the biggest monthly increase since the series began a decade ago.

New Zealand's total core spending on electronic cards, which excludes motor vehicle-related industries, fell 0.9 per cent to $3.4 billion.

ASB economist Christina Leung said although there was decline in retail spending last month, that followed a very strong result in August.

"Looking beyond the monthly volatility, the trend remains one of a gradual recovery in retail spending," she said.

Despite a small decline in spending on durables, it remained 2.8 per cent higher than a year ago.

"This improvement is in line with recent consumer confidence surveys, which point to increased optimism amongst households towards the purchase of big-ticket items.


"Stronger housing market activity, particularly in Auckland, is likely to be underpinning this recovery."

Leung said sales of durable goods such as electronics and furniture tend to increase in line with stronger housing demand as households look to furnish their new homes.

The small increase in spending on fuel was a little lower than the 0.6 per cent increase in petrol prices over September.

"However, this likely reflects payback from the strong increase in the previous month.

"Spending on fuel has outpaced the increase in petrol prices over the past year, indicating an increase in spending volumes on fuel."