Wholesale Trade Survey: September 2009 quarter

Commentary

All references to sales and stocks movements are to seasonally adjusted series unless otherwise stated.

Sales

Total wholesale trade sales have fallen for a fifth consecutive quarter, down 0.8 percent ($154 million) in the September 2009 quarter. Before the current fall total wholesale trade sales had never fallen for longer than two quarters. This recent fall in sales brings the total value to $20.2 billion, a level last seen nearly three years ago.

 Graph, Change in wholesale trade seasonally adjusted sales, quarterly.

The overall picture across the 16 wholesaling industries was mixed, with nine industries falling and seven increasing. The largest decreases for the September 2009 quarter were in the following industries:

  • primary product food wholesaling, down 8.4 percent ($148 million)
  • farm, construction machinery, and professional business equipment wholesaling, down 6.6 percent ($119 million)
  • motor vehicle wholesaling, down 5.1 percent ($69 million) 
  • wholesale trade not elsewhere classified (nec), down 5.7 percent ($61 million).

These falls were partly offset by increases in the following industries:

  • food and grocery wholesaling, up 4.1 percent ($172 millon)
  • petroleum product wholesaling, up 4.2 percent ($66 million), (sales in this industry are not seasonally adjusted).

The remaining industries moved, up or down, by less than $50 million.

Graph, Industry contributions to the change in seasonally adjusted sales 

Sales trend

The total sales trend has also decreased for five consecutive quarters, falling 10.4 percent since the peak in June 2008. This far surpasses the previous largest fall in the trend (a drop of 1.1 percent over three quarters of 1996), but follows a two-and-a-half-year period of increase, up 18.1 percent since the December 2005 quarter. Latest data suggest the rate of fall has slowed.

 Graph, Industry contributions to the change in seasonally adjusted sales, change from previous quarter, September 2009 quarter.

The main contributors to the decline in the overall sales trend are as follows:

  • Petroleum product wholesaling sales are down 26.5 percent since September 2008, but the rate of fall has eased considerably in the last two quarters.
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  • Primary product food wholesaling sales continue to fall, down 21.0 percent since March 2008. Part of the decrease in the December 2008 and March 2009 quarters was due to the reclassification of some activity from primary product food wholesaling to manufacturing.
  • Metal and mineral wholesaling sales fell 39.2 percent between the September 2008 and June 2009 quarters, but may have stopped falling. Latest figures may be revised, and should be used with caution.
  • Motor vehicle wholesaling sales have fallen 28.6 percent since September 2007. The rate of fall has eased in the last two quarters.
  • Machinery and equipment nec wholesaling have fallen 19.9 percent since March 2008. The rate of fall has eased in the last two quarters. 

Food and grocery products, and pharmaceutical and toiletry wholesaling are the only industries where the sales trend in September 2009 is higher than June 2008, up 6.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.

Stocks

Total wholesale trade stocks fell 5.1 percent ($545 million) in the September 2009 quarter, the largest quarterly fall since the series began in March 1995. The latest result exceeds last quarter's record fall of 4.4 percent ($493 million), and extends the longest and fastest period of decline in stocks since the series began in March 1995. The total value of stocks in the September 2009 quarter was $10.1 billion.

Graph, Wholesale trade total sales, quarterly.

Stocks decreased in 12 of the 16 wholesale industries in the September 2009 quarter. The largest decreases were in these industries:

  • petroleum product wholesaling – down 23.8 percent ($374 million) following a rise of 22.4 percent ($288 million) last quarter (stocks in this industry are not seasonally adjusted)
  • unprocessed primary products wholesaling – down 8.3 percent ($69 million)
  • wholesale trade nec – down 10.0 percent ($68 million), (stocks in this industry are not seasonally adjusted).

Only four industries recorded increases, all of which were relatively small. The biggest was in metal and mineral wholesaling, up 10.0 percent ($35 million).

In the September 2002 quarter, restructuring in the dairy industry affected the sales and stocks series. To maintain the consistency of the seasonally adjusted and trend series, the discontinuity has been removed before seasonal adjustment, as shown in the graph above.

Revisions

Amended information for the June 2009 quarter has resulted in revisions to the actual sales series for electrical and electronic wholesaling and pharmaceutical and toiletry wholesaling, plus revisions to the actual stock series for unprocessed primary products wholesaling.

Corresponding revisions have also been made to the seasonally adjusted, trend, and total series.  

Wholesale Trade Survey Actual Sales Revisions
Quarter Industry Series ref: WTSQ Published 
7 September 2009
Published
7 December 2009
$(million) $(million)
June 2009 Electrical and electronic equipment SNF0142A 1,010 978
Pharmaceutical and toiletry SNF0175A    981    963
Total SNF0ZZZA 20,374 20,325
  
Wholesale Trade Survey Actual Stocks Revisions
Quarter Industry Series ref: WTSQ Published 
7 September 2009
Published
7 December 2009
$(million) $(million)
June 2009 Unprocessed primary products SNF0111Z 828 858
Total SNF0ZZZZ 10,899 10,929


Measurement errors

All statistical estimates are subject to measurement errors. These include both sample errors and non-sample errors. In addition, the survey applies imputation methodologies to cope with small firms and non-response. These measurement errors should be considered when analysing the results from the survey. For more information on measurement errors, please refer to the 'Technical notes' section.

Sample errors

The postal survey was designed to give statistics at the following levels of accuracy (at the 95 percent confidence interval):

  • 5 percent for operating income and stocks at the total wholesale trade level
  • 10 percent for operating income and stocks at the published industry level.

This means, for example, that there is a 95 percent chance that the true value of total wholesale trade operating income lies within 5 percent of the published estimate.

At the industry level, the following sample errors were recorded in the September 2009 quarter at the 95 percent confidence interval limit.

Wholesale Trade Survey Sample Errors 
September 2009 quarter
Industry group Level (relative percent) Movement (absolute percent)
  Operating income
Unprocessed primary products wholesaling 4.2 3.7
Petroleum product wholesaling 0.0 0.0
Metal and mineral wholesaling 0.0 0.0
Chemical wholesaling 0.0 0.0
Builders' supplies wholesaling 5.8 3.9
Farm, construction machinery, and professional business equipment wholesaling 9.1 5.9
Electrical and electronic equipment wholesaling 5.7 4.4
Machinery and equipment nec wholesaling 14.7 5.6
Motor vehicle wholesaling 5.2 4.4
Primary product food wholesaling 0.0  0.0
Food and grocery products wholesaling 1.9 2.8
Textile, clothing, and footwear wholesaling 4.7 2.6
Household good wholesaling 1.8 2.7
Wholesale trade nec 3.5 3.1
Books and paper product wholesaling 2.5 2.1
Pharmaceutical and toiletry wholesaling 0.0 0.0
Total wholesale trade 1.3 0.9
Note: nec = not elsewhere classified
Industries with zero sample error are full-coverage industries. In these industries, all large firms are surveyed and all small to medium-sized firms are modelled using administrative data sourced from Inland Revenue.

Imputation

Small firms

Small to medium-sized firms are generally not surveyed. Their variables are instead modelled from administrative data (GST and EMS) sourced from Inland Revenue. Ratios calculated from the postal sample units are applied to the administrative data to provide an estimate of their variables.

Non-response imputation

Although every attempt is made to achieve a 100 percent response rate, in practice this does not occur. Values for non-responding businesses are estimated by a number of methods, including:

  • regression imputation
  • historic imputation
  • mean imputation.

Regression imputation involves estimating the variable of interest from the unit's administrative data (GST sales), based on the relationship shown by similar businesses. Historic imputation involves multiplying their response in the previous period by a non-response factor. The non-response factor is the average movement over the quarter of similar businesses. Mean imputation involves estimating a value for a unit by using the average value for a set of similar businesses.

Wholesale Trade Survey Operating Income Imputed
September 2009 quarter

Industry group Tax modelled Non-response 
Percentage of operating income
Unprocessed primary products wholesaling 10.1 8.1
Petroleum product wholesaling 1.2 1.6
Metal and mineral wholesaling 7.0 5.3
Chemical wholesaling 17.5 2.2
Builders' supplies wholesaling 11.3 6.5
Farm, construction machinery, and professional business equipment wholesaling 10.6 8.5
Electrical and electronic equipment wholesaling 13.4 8.8
Machinery and equipment nec wholesaling 14.6 15.4
Motor vehicle wholesaling 14.5 8.4
Primary product food wholesaling 11.4 5.5
Food and grocery products wholesaling 3.1 4.0
Textile, clothing, and footwear wholesaling 14.7 13.1
Household good wholesaling 11.7 13.7
Wholesale trade nec 23.6 12.0
Books and paper product wholesaling 6.6 10.3
Pharmaceutical and toiletry wholesaling 14.8 6.3
Total wholesale trade 9.9 7.0
Note: nec = not elsewhere classified

Postal response rate

The response rate describes the proportion of operating income that was provided by actual survey responses. Note that the calculation of this response rate relates only to data for the postal sample. The Wholesale Trade Survey has a target response rate of 85 percent. The response rate achieved for the September 2009 quarter was 92 percent.

For technical information contact: 
Chris Stephenson or Kathy Hicks
Christchurch 03 964 8700
Email: subannuals@stats.govt.nz

Next release ...

Wholesale Trade Survey: December 2009 quarter will be released on 5 March 2010.