Tourists appear to be spending more on their credit cards in New Zealand, led by visitors from Australia and the UK, based on transactions through the Paymark network.
The data doesn't reveal whether the spending is actually by tourists or local residents still using overseas cards but Paymark said the pattern of spending at tourist destinations suggested it was visitors to the country.
Total spending on overseas-issued credit cards rose 14.6 per cent to $278.8 million in February from the same month last year, based on Paymark transactions. Spending rose 27 per cent in Otago, and almost 30 per cent in Southland, which the company said reflected activity in Queenstown and Milford Sound.
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Australians were the biggest spenders, at $64.8 million, a 19 per cent gain compared to February 2015. Spending on UK-issued credit cards rose 7.5 per cent to $41.6 million and the increase on American cards rose 10 percent to about $40 million.
The biggest gain was on South Korean cards, which jumped 31 per cent to $5.39 million, while spending on Japanese cards rose 25 percent to $4.3 million. Spending on Chinese cards rose 24 percent to $36.8 million.
Cards issued in 161 countries were used in New Zealand last month, Paymark said.
Government figures today showed New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards rose for a 10th straight month in February, led by an increase in consumables such as food and liquor.
Retail spending rose 0.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in February from January and actual sales in the month were up 9.3 per cent to $4.64 billion compared with February 2015, Statistics New Zealand said. Core retail spending, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 1.2 per cent, mainly reflecting the decline in petrol prices, with fuel spending down 2.1 per cent.
ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand and Westpac Banking Corp own Paymark and last month investment bank Cameron Partners said it had been hired to conduct a strategic review after the owners received interest in their shares. The review is expected to take several months, but no decision on whether to sell has been made.