NZ first quarter retail sales rise, driven by car sales

Article – BusinessDesk

Monday 15 May 2017 11:21 AM

NZ first quarter retail sales rise, driven by car sales

By Rebecca Howard

May 15 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand retail sales rose in the first quarter, powered higher by a surge in car sales.

The volume of retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.5 percent in the three months ended March 31, from a 0.9 percent rise in the December quarter, Statistics New Zealand said. The total value of retail sales, seasonally adjusted, rose 2.6 percent in the quarter to $21.7 billion, ahead of the 1.6 percent pace in the December quarter.

The rise in the volume of retail sales was driven by motor vehicle and parts retailing – up 5.9 percent on the quarter. The record increase accounted for more than half the total gain in retail sales volume for the quarter, Stats NZ said. Volumes in core retail – which excludes motor vehicles and fuel – rose 1.2 percent in the quarter, outperforming the prior quarter’s 0.7 percent growth.

“Car sales have shown consistent growth over the past year, with higher sales of both new and used vehicles in a buoyant market,” Stats NZ senior business indicators manager Neil Kelly said. “The demand for cars may reflect New Zealand’s growing population, with net migration remaining at record levels into 2017, and the relatively low cost of new vehicles.”

New Zealand’s car market has been on a tear for the past three years, setting new records through that period as the country’s relatively strong labour market has provided enough jobs for an expanding population.

Sales values rose for 10 of the 15 industries in the quarter, with fuel retailing up 6.5 percent to $2 billion and motor vehicle and parts retailing up 5.9 percent to $3.2 billion. Non-store and commission-based retailing rose 9.6 percent to $389 million. Four of the 15 industries fell, with supermarket and grocery store retailing down 0.2 percent to $4.5 billion while hardware, building and garden supply retailing was unchanged at $1.8 billion.

The North Island saw sales values rise 2.3 percent to $16.5 billion in the quarter, with $7.9 billion of that in Auckland, $2 billion in Waikato and $2 billion in Wellington. Sales values rose 2.8 percent to $5.2 billion in the South Island.

On an unadjusted basis, the value of retail spending rose 6.7 percent to $21.5 billion in the March quarter compared to the same period a year earlier.

(BusinessDesk)

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