Wellington, Nov 9 New Zealanders spent NZ$645 million ($461 million), or 9.5 per cent more on their credit and debit cards in October compared with last month, the statistics department Stats NZ said on Tuesday.

“The increase indicates spending is starting to return to levels seen before the country went into lockdown in the second half of August,” business performance manager Ricky Ho said in a statement.

The increase in the electronic card spending in October is the largest since June 2020. Spending in the previous two months has been relatively low, especially in the retail spending category, Ho said.

In October, most spending categories had large increases and were also some of the largest seen in 2021, he said, adding this reflects the easing of restrictions in some regions, which has allowed more stores to open for non-essential shopping, reports Xinhua news agency.

The value of total electronic card spending in October was NZ$7.4 billion, with the retail spending category accounting for just over three-quarters of this. Retail card spending was up 10.1 per cent, according to Stats NZ.

In October, the durables spending category went up 11.5 per cent and drove the increase in total card spending. This category includes many non-essential items such as furniture, hardware, and appliances, it said.

Groceries and liquor were the only spending category that saw a decrease in card spending over the month, down 0.2 per cent from September 2021, statistics showed.

“The slight dip in grocery shopping could be due to New Zealanders now having more options to eat out or have takeaways, instead of purchasing food from supermarkets,” Ho said.

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