New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards rose in July as the government's suite of measures aimed at boosting household incomes came into effect.
Seasonally adjusted total retail spending on credit and debit cards increased 0.7 per cent in July after lifting 0.8 per cent in June, Statistics New Zealand said. Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 0.3 per cent in July, after lifting 0.6 per cent in June.
"With a third consecutive monthly rise of around 0.7 per cent, we have seen steady growth in retail card spending after the dip in April," acting retail manager Kathy Hicks said.
"The latest monthly rise mainly reflects spending on the household essentials such as fuel and groceries."
Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod said the lift in spending was supported the government's family package, which boosted the disposable income of many families. The government also lifted the minimum wage on April 1.
"While we expect spending to be stronger than in the first half of the year, households' spending appetites will continue to be challenged by the ongoing softness in the housing market," he said.
Yesterday the Reserve Bank kept the official cash rate at 1.75 per cent and indicated it would stay lower for longer as economic growth has been weaker than expected.
While the RBNZ said household spending is currently "solid", it noted the housing market is softening and that "is expected to weigh on household spending" over the forecast period.
Today's data show card spending rose in four of the six retail industries in July. Consumables spending, which covers grocery and liquor retailing, rose 0.6 per cent in July, while spending on fuel advanced 2.1 per cent. Spending on apparel such as clothing, footwear and accessories slipped 1.8 per cent.
Today's figures show actual total retail spending using electronic cards increased 4.5 per cent in July percent to $5.17 billion compared with the same month a year earlier.
Card-holders across all industries made 144 million transactions in the month, up from 140 million in June. The average value of $49 was unchanged on the month and the year.