New Zealanders lifted retail spending on credit and debit cards last month, adding to signs an accelerating economy is making consumers more confident to open their wallets.
Total electronic card transactions at retailers rose 0.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, in December from November and were up 5.5 percent compared to December 2012, according to Statistics New Zealand.
Core retailing rose 0.9 percent, led by a 3 percent rise in apparel sales, a 2.1 percent increase in hospitality and a 0.7 percent gain in consumables such as food and liquor, the data shows. Spending on durables, which includes furniture and appliances, edged up 0.2 percent.
The gain in total retailing was helped by a 1.2 percent rise in fuel sales, while vehicle sales were unchanged.
The official figures come after Paymark, which processes 75 percent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, reported last week that spending in December rose 7.5 percent from a year earlier, rounding out the fastest annual growth since 2008 and including "record smashing" sales on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.
Total card spending rose 1 percent last month.
In unadjusted terms, there were 128 million transactions in December, with an average value of $56. The total spent was $7.2 billion.