Retail spending enjoyed strong growth in May, led by dentists, mechanics and the retail building sector, according to latest Paymark figures.
The data showed nationwide annual growth for the start of winter was 5.8 per cent, the highest rate so far this year.
Leading the way was the retail-building sector, with plumbing retailers, wholesale building stores and floor covering suppliers experiencing growth of 17.7 per cent, 16.4 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively.
Dentists enjoyed annual growth of 14.8 per cent, automotive repair sales were up 13.5 per cent, and clothing retailers grew 10.7 per cent.
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Despite a favourable fall of shopping days compared to May last year, spending was still stronger than usual for this time of year, said Paul Whiston, Paymark head of sales and marketing.
"Spending through the Paymark network in May, excluding fuel, rose a seasonally adjusted 4.2 per cent from May 2011 to 2012," Whiston said.
"Irrespective of the favourable fall in shopping days, spending was better than we'd normally expect as winter hits."
Spending was especially good amongst merchants associated with the building cycle, particularly in Nelson and Palmerston North, he said.
Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, said retailers saw non-seasonally adjusted growth of 8.4 per cent and 8.3 per cent in Nelson and Palmerston North respectively.
Regions that did less well were Wellington and Wairarapa, with growth of 2.3 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.
Year-on-year growth of 6.3 per cent in credit card transactions beat the growth of debit card usage at 4.5 per cent. The number of overall transactions increased by 4.9 per cent.