New Zealanders lifted spending on their credit, debit and charge cards last month, led by consumables such as food, liquor and fuel.
The value of electronic card spending in retail industries rose 0.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, in January from December, the fourth straight gain, according to Statistics New Zealand. Core retail spending, which excludes motor vehicle-related industries, also gained 0.3 percent.
The figures indicate momentum in spending continued in January, after what is forecast to have been a 1.1 percent gain in the volume of sales in the fourth quarter of 2012. That data is released on Friday.
A Dun & Bradstreet survey released last month showed four in 10 people planned to raise their credit limit during the next three months.
Paymark, which handles about 75 percent of the country's electronic transactions, said yesterday the value of transactions rose 5.1 percent to $3.96 billion in January from the same month a year earlier, while the number of transactions climbed 6.3 percent to 79 million.
That is a faster rate of growth than the 2.3 percent increase in the value of spending in December and the 3.6 percent gain in transactions.
Total card spending rose 0.4 percent in January. In unadjusted terms there were 107 million transactions last month, with an average value of $52 for a total of $5.6 billion.
Spending on consumables rose 0.8 percent in the latest month, while spending on fuel climbed 1.9 percent. Vehicles excluding fuel fell 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, in a further sign that business conditions are improving, a Dun & Bradstreet survey released today shows the time firms take to pay their bills has dropped by a week over the last year to a near record-low of 40.1 days.
"Almost three in five invoices (58 percent) were paid on time in the December quarter, up 11 per cent year-on-year, while the number of invoices paid more than one day late dropped by 28 per cent over the same period," D&B said.