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Kiwis loosen electronic purse strings, except at the pump

Kiwis indulged in a bit of retail therapy last month, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand, but one place we weren't opening our wallets was at the pump.

Kiwis indulged in a bit of retail therapy last month, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand, but one place we weren't opening our wallets was at the pump.

Total electronic card spending was up 0.8 percent to $5.32 billion; retail expenditure accounted for $4.03 billion, a 1.2 percent increase, with transactions rising in all retail industries apart from fuel—which was down 3.6 percent after a 4.5 percent fall in May.

"These falls, coming after nine consecutive monthly rises, coincided with a decline in fuel prices in recent weeks," says government statistician Geoff Bascand.

Core retail (which excludes the motor vehicle-related industries) increased 2.1 percent in June. Durables, including furniture, hardware and cosmetics, showed the biggest gain, up 2.4 percent to $996 million. Meanwhile, consumables climbed to $1.46 billion, reflecting a 1.4 percent gain.

The data reflects the sentiment of recent business confidence surveys, which showed renewed optimism in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

According to Statistics New Zealand, the proportion of electronic transactions in retail has been slowly increasing over time. The report includes spending on credit and debit cards, but not cash, cheque or hire purchases.

"Trends for the value of transactions in the total and retail series have been increasing since January 2009, and the rate of increase has been strong in recent months," says Bascand. 

"The core retail trend has generally been increasing since the series began in October 2002, and the rate of increase has strengthened since December 2010."

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