Retail spending slows in first quarter

  • 13/05/2016
Retail spending slows in first quarter

New Zealand first-quarter retail sales volumes rose at the slowest pace for three quarters, missing economist expectations.

The volume of retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in the three months through March from the December quarter, Statistics New Zealand said.

That lags behind the 1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Retail sales volumes for the December quarter were revised lower to 1.1 percent from 1.2 percent. Core retail volumes, which excludes the more volatile vehicle-related industries, increased 1 percent in the March quarter, the agency said.

Some 11 of the 15 industries had higher sales volumes in the latest quarter, with the largest increased in electrical and electronic goods retailing, which grew 3.8 percent, online and commission-based retailing which gained 10 percent, food, and beverage services up 1.3 percent, and clothing, footwear and accessories ahead 1.7 percent.

That was offset by a 3.8 percent decline in specialised food retailing and a 0.6 percent fall in liquor sales.

"Following solid gains through the latter part of 2015, retail spending growth eased off a bit in early 2016," says Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.

"The moderation in retail sales growth in early 2016 isn't too surprising. Late 2015 saw strong growth in spending on durable items such as hardware and furnishings, and it's normal to subsequently see a bit of a softening."

Westpac's Ranchhod said the report highlighted that inflation remains subdued.

On an unadjusted basis, the volume of retail spending rose 4.8 percent in the March quarter, compared with the same quarter in 2015. That's ahead of the 3.9 percent gain expected in the Reuters poll of economists.

The value of actual retail sales increased 4.7 percent to $20.16 billion.

Stripping out vehicle-related spending, the volume of core retail sales rose 4.7 percent, while the value gained 5.1 percent.