Robust spending on electronics boosted September quarter’s retail sales

The rise in spending on electronic goods retailing has helped boost total retail sales volumes in the September quarter, Statistics NZ said.

Spending on electronics such as appliances, mobile phones and computers rose a solid 1.6 per cent, seasonally adjusted, after a modest 0.2 per cent rise in the June quarter.   

The electrical and electronic goods retailing had the largest rise of all 15 retail industries, with sales volumes up 4.4 per cent after increasing 5.2 per cent in the June quarter.

This industry includes retailing for electrical appliances, mobile phones, and computer and technical equipment.

Sue Chapman, retail statistics manager, said higher electronic sales volumes in the quarter coincided with some retailers promoting sales of big screen televisions before the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which started near the end of September.

The electrical and electronic goods industry has shown consistent growth for over seven years, after a slight fall in March 2012.

“Products like TVs, computers, and mobile phones are getting cheaper, and New Zealanders are buying more of them,” Chapman said.

In the September quarter, sales values of this industry were up 3.4 per cent despite falling prices.

Prices are adjusted to reflect quality changes. This includes allowances for technological enhancements, such as capacity and speed.

Chapman said electronics retailers also boosted inventories significantly this year at the same time as a rise in sale volumes and values. She said this has seen a 20 per cent increase compared with the September quarter in 2018.

Overall, 11 of the 15 retail industries had seen an increase in sales volume in this year’s September quarter.  

In the recent quarter, the second-largest increase was in department stores, which saw a 3.5 per cent increase following a 3.1 per cent fall in the June 2019 quarter.


Accommodation had the largest decline, down 1.4 per cent this quarter after a 1.6 per cent rise in the June 2019 quarter.

When the effects of price changes are included, total retail sales rose 1.4 per cent ($333 million) in the September quarter, following a 0.7 per cent ($164 million) rise in the June quarter.

Supermarket and grocery stores drove the total sales value up this quarter, with the largest increase of 1.7 per cent ($88 million). This was followed by a 0.4 per cent decrease in the June quarter.

Fuel retailing had seen the largest decrease in the September quarter which saw a 2.8 per cent ($64 million) decline after a 2.3 per cent ($50 million) rise in June. In the same period, fuel prices fell 1.7 per cent.

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales saw a 4.2 per cent ($961 million) increase to $23.8 billion in the September quarter from the same period last year.

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