Spending in department stores, hardware boost retail sales for the quarter

New Zealand’s overall retail spending was up in the first three months of 2019 helped by higher spending at department stores and on hardware and building supplies this summer.

Statistics NZ data shows the total volume of retail sales has seen a seasonally adjusted 0.7 per cent increase in the quarter.

The steady rise in total retail sales volumes followed a strong increase of 1.7 per cent in the December 2018 quarter, after adjusting for price and seasonal effects.

“In the March quarter, two industries with the largest increases were partly offset by two industries with the largest falls,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

The largest volume movements came from department stores, up 4.4 per cent; and hardware, building, and garden supplies, up 3.0 per cent.

However, there was a drop in pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing, down 5.7 per cent; and accommodation, down 4.7 per cent.

According to Statistics NZ, department stores, and hardware, building, and garden supplies, have both recovered from having the largest falls in the December 2018 quarter.

“Consumer-spending patterns may reflect more gift-buying at department stores rather than spending on traditional florist or jewellery stores,” Chapman said.

The decline in pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing contrasted with the 8.3 per cent increase in the December 2018 quarter, data shows.

Chapman said the fall in this industry group includes lower sales from duty-free stores and for health and cosmetic products, so may reflect the slight dip in international visitor numbers.

When the effects of price changes are included, the seasonally adjusted value of total retail sales rose a modest 0.2 per cent ($43 million). This comes after a stronger 1.8 per cent ($429 million) rise in the December 2018 quarter.

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales was $24 billion in the March quarter, up 3.7 per cent from the previous year.

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