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Retail Trade Survey: March 2017 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  15 May 2017
Commentary

All values are seasonally adjusted, with comparisons against the previous quarter, unless otherwise stated.

Total sales volume rises

The total volume of retail sales rose 1.5 percent for the March 2017 quarter. This increase follows a 0.9 percent rise in the December 2016 quarter.

Nine of the 15 retail industries had higher sales volumes in the latest quarter. The motor-vehicle and parts industry had the largest rise (up 5.9 percent) – the largest quarterly rise since the series began. 

 Graph, Retail industry contributions to the change in seasonally adjusted sales volumes, Change from December 2016 quarter.

Remaining industries with large rises in the March 2017 quarter were:

  • food and beverage services, up 3.5 percent
  • electrical and electronic goods, up 5.3 percent
  • pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing, up 2.8 percent.

The largest falls in the latest quarter were:

  • supermarket and grocery stores, down 1.5 percent
  • fuel retailing, down 3.4 percent
  • specialised food, down 2.7 percent.

In core retail (which excludes the two vehicle-related industries), the sales volume rose 1.2 percent in the March 2017 quarter, after a 0.7 percent rise in the December 2016 quarter.

Total sales value rises

The total value of retail sales rose 2.6 percent ($558 million) in the March 2017 quarter. This follows a 1.6 percent ($325 million) rise in the December 2016 quarter.

Eleven of the 15 retail industries had higher sales values in the latest quarter.

Graph, Retail industry contributions to the change in seasonally adjusted sales values, Change from December 2016 quarter.  

Industries with the largest rises in the March 2017 quarter were:

  • motor-vehicle and parts retailing, up 5.9 percent ($179 million)
  • fuel retailing, up 6.5 percent ($122 million)
  • food and beverage services, up 4.0 percent ($96 million) 
  • pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing, up 2.8 percent ($39 million).

Four industries had lower sales in the March 2017 quarter, all with falls under $9 million.

In core retail (which excludes the two vehicle-related industries) the sales value rose 1.6 percent ($257 million) in the March 2017 quarter. This follows a 1.0 percent rise ($158 million) in the December 2016 quarter.

Trends for sales volume and value rise

The trends for sales volume and value continued to rise in the March 2017 quarter.

Trends for the total volume and for core sales (which excludes the two vehicle-related industries) have been rising since late 2010. The total sales volume trend has risen 32 percent since the December 2010 quarter, while the core sales volume trend has risen 30 percent since the September 2010 quarter.

Graph, Retail sales volumes, Quarterly, March 2011 to March 2017.  

The trend for the total sales value has been rising for eight years – up 42 percent since the March 2009 quarter.

The core sales value trend (which excludes the two vehicle-related industries) has risen 39 percent since the December 2007 quarter.

Graph, Retail sales values, Quarterly, March 2011 to March 2017.  

Sales for motor-vehicles surge to record levels

The volume of sales in the motor-vehicle and parts retailing industry surged to a record 5.9 percent in the March 2017 quarter. This is the largest quarterly increase since the series began, and follows solid rises of 3.8 percent and 2.3 percent in the December and September 2016 quarters, respectively.

Buoyant sales in both new and used vehicles may have resulted from the growing population, and the low cost of new vehicles. In actual numbers, New Zealand Transport Agency figures show increases for registrations of passenger vehicles – up 12 percent in the March 2017 quarter from the same period in 2016.

Prices (which are not seasonally adjusted) rose 0.1 percent in the latest quarter, following a 1.2 percent rise in the December 2016 quarter. 

With the effect of price changes included, the value of sales in this industry rose 5.9 percent ($179 million) in the latest quarter. This dollar-value rise is the largest recorded since the series began. This follows rises of 4.1 percent ($119 million) and 2.6 percent ($75 million) in the December and September 2016 quarters, respectively.

Graph, Motor vehicle and parts sales volumes, Quarterly, March 2011 to March 2017.  

The sales volume trend for the motor-vehicle and parts industry has been rising for six and a half years – up 65 percent since the September 2010 quarter.

Food and beverage services sales up

The volume of sales in the food and beverage services industry rose 3.5 percent in the March 2017 quarter. This is the largest dollar-value increase since the series began, and follows a more subdued 0.5 percent rise in the December 2016 quarter.

Prices (which are not seasonally adjusted) rose 0.6 percent in the latest quarter, following a 0.4 percent increase in the December 2016 quarter. 

With the effect of price changes included, the value of sales in this industry rose 4.0 percent ($96 million) in the latest quarter. This dollar-value rise is the largest recorded since this series began. This follows a 0.8 percent ($20 million) rise in the December 2016 quarter.

 Graph, Food and beverage services sales volumes, Quarterly, March 2011 to March 2017.

The trend for food and beverage services sales volume has generally been rising for six and a half years – up 38 percent since the September 2010 quarter.

All regions show growth in March

Note: The Retail Trade Survey is designed at a national level. Use caution when interpreting regional-level figures.

The value of sales in the North Island rose 2.3 percent ($365 million) in the March 2017 quarter, after a 1.4 percent ($224 million) rise in the December 2016 quarter.

The North Island sales increase resulted from:

  • Auckland – up 1.4 percent ($108 million)
  • Waikato – up 2.8 percent ($56 million)
  • Wellington – up 0.9 percent ($18 million)
  • remainder of the North Island – up 4.4 percent ($183 million).

The value of sales in the South Island rose 2.8 percent ($139 million) in the March 2017 quarter, after a rise of 1.9 percent ($92 million) in the December 2016 quarter.

The South Island sales increase resulted from:

  • Canterbury – up 3.7 percent ($104 million)
  • remainder of the South Island – up 1.6 percent ($36 million).

Actual sales volume and value show increases from 2016

In the March 2017 quarter, compared with the March 2016 quarter:

  • the volume of total actual retail sales rose 4.6 percent
  • the value of total actual retail sales rose 6.7 percent (to $21.5 billion)
  • the volume of core actual retail sales rose 3.8 percent
  • the value of core actual retail sales rose 4.8 percent (to $16.3 billion).

Actual stock values up from March 2016

Stock figures are recorded at 31 March 2017. All references to stocks are in actual dollars.

The total value of stock held at 31 March 2017 ($8 billion) was 10 percent ($721 million) higher than at 31 March 2016. This is the largest dollar-value increase since the stock value series began in June 1995.

The value of stock for the core retail industries ($5.9 billion) was 6.5 percent ($356 million) higher than at 31 March 2016.

Graph, Quarterly retail stock levels, March 2011 to March 2017.  

All 15 retail industries recorded stock increases in the March 2017 quarter compared with the March 2016 quarter. The largest increases were in:

  • motor-vehicle and parts retailing – up 21 percent ($345 million) 
  • hardware, building, and garden supplies – up 11 percent ($101 million)
  • pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing – up 10 percent ($56 million).

Find data tables

For more detailed data from the Retail Trade Survey, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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