The annual growth rate picked up in Auckland/Northland during October, rising to 5.1% which is above the 12-month average of 3.3%. Excluding petrol stations, the ex-fuel annual growth rate was also 5.1% and up on previous months, suggesting the region is coping well with the sharp rise in fuel prices in recent months. Spending at housing-related merchants, up 9.8%, is a key driving force. A countering force remains lower spending (-9.8%) amongst Auckland/Northland accommodation merchants.
Further sign of consumers shrugging off the higher petrol prices was strong spending growth during Labour weekend. Spending nationally was up 8.1% amongst non-fuel merchants over the weekend, including 22.1% more at liquor merchants and 21.5% more amongst hardware and home decorating stores. Excluding fuel, highest growth rates were recorded away from the major centres at West Coast (19.9%), Gisborne (+15.1%), Whanganui (+13.0%) and Southland (+13.7%).
Figure 1: Paymark All Cards regional transaction data (recent months versus same months a year earlier)
Bay of Plenty also recorded double-digit annual growth over Labour weekend but this was surpassed by an 11.1% annual non-fuel growth rate on Wednesday 31 October, the day of the royal visit to Rotorua. Conversely, below average non-fuel spending growth was reported in the days before in Wellington on Sunday (5.5%), Nelson on Monday (1.2%) and Auckland/Northland on Tuesday (0.1%), providing mixed spending effects coinciding with the royal visit.
Spending across all regions over the month was up only 0.1% since September in seasonally adjusted terms, and was unchanged once fuel sales were excluded, but the national annual growth rate of 6.4% remains similar to the average of the previous 12 months. Spending growth was strongest in Gisborne (+14.0%), Palmerston North (+12.8%), Whanganui (+12.3%) and Wairarapa (11.0%). Slowest annual growth was recorded in Canterbury (4.7%).