New Zealanders look to have heeded Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr's advice in August and headed out to spend.

Seasonally adjusted electronic card spending lifted 1.1 per cent in August after falling 0.1 per cent in July. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected a lift of 0.5 per cent.

Core retail spending, excluding fuel and vehicle purchases, lifted 1.3 per cent after falling 0.4 per cent in July.

The central bank cut rates by 50 basis points to a record low 1.0 per cent on August 7 and Orr called on consumers to spend more and businesses to invest more.


"Consumers look to have heeded the RBNZ's advice to go out and spend, but we remain sceptical as to how long this retail resilience will last," ASB senior economist Mark Smith said.

Fuel was the only retail industry to show a decline, falling 1.4 per cent or $8 million to $581m after lifting 3.2 per cent in August.

Lower fuel prices likely helped spur the spending, "however, the solid 1.3 per cent rise in core points to a more substantial pick-up in spending appetites," Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.

Ranchhod said it's not obvious whether the rate cut boosted spending in August but "we do expect that the related falls in mortgage rates will help to support spending over the coming year."

The largest increase in spending was on durables, including hardware, furniture and appliances, which rose $23m or 1.7 per cent. Consumables, including groceries and liquor, were up $16m or 0.8 per cent. Hospitality spending also lifted $16m or 1.5 per cent.

Spending in the apparel industry rose 4.5 per cent or $13m after falling in July.

In actual terms, retail spending on electronic cards was $5.35 billion in August, up 2.8 per cent or $147m versus the same month a year earlier.

Core retail spending was $4.59b, up 5 per cent from a year earlier.


Cardholders made 150 million transactions across all industries in August with an average value of $49 per transaction.