New Zealanders' retail spending on credit, debit and store cards dropped last month, the first decline since March, led by furniture, hardware, appliances and clothing.

Retail spending on electronic cards fell 0.8 per cent seasonally adjusted in September, the biggest decline since July last year, when spending fell 1 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Core retail sales, which exclude vehicle related transactions, dropped 1 per cent, following a 1.1 per cent gain in August.

Durables, which include by furniture, hardware and home appliances, fell 3.4 per cent in the latest month, retracing a 3.3 per cent gain in August. Apparel declined 1.5 per cent and hospitality slipped 0.3 per cent. Fuel fell 0.8 per cent and vehicles excluding fuel fell 1.7 per cent.

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"Overall, the electronic cards data for the last three months are pointing to a slower pace of retail spending in the September quarter than in June, though underlying indicators of spending appetites, such as consumer confidence, remain at a fairly high level," said Felix Delbruck, senior economist at Westpac Bank. "Our forecast for retail volume growth in the September quarter is now 0.7 per cent, compared to 1.7 per cent in the June quarter."

Total card spending fell 0.4 per cent last month, the same amount it rose in August. In unadjusted terms, there were 108 million transactions in September with an average value of $51. The total spent was $5.5 billion.

Actual retail sales rose 3.5 per cent in September, following a gain of 6.4 per cent in August and were up 4.1 per cent from a year earlier.