Retail spending flat

Householders cut back on hardware and appliances purchases while stocking up on cars and fuel in August, with total retail sales (seasonally adjusted) down less than 0.1% ($2m) following 0.5% ($27m) decrease in July, according to Statistics NZ. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected 0.4% gain.

Core retail sales (which exclude the vehicle-related industries) were down 0.6% ($25m). Economists had forecast 0.3% gain. The biggest decreases were hardware retailing (down 5.8%, or $7m) and appliance retailing (down 2.2%, or $5m). The largest overall increases were motor vehicle retailing (up 2.3%, or $14m) and automotive fuel retailing (up 2.1%, or $11m).

Stronger sales are portended.  Statistics based on electronic card transactions in September, published earlier in the week, showed stronger appetite for spending ahead of the rise in GST to 15% from 1 October. Transactions in retail industries were up 1.5%  and total electronic card transactions up 1%.

The credit card data showed trends for the value of transactions in the total and retail series have both picked up in recent months.  However, less cheery retailing outlook is painted by recent confidence surveys. The National Bank’s September business opinion survey found the activity outlook lowest among retailers.




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