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Retail sales remain buoyant – but there’s a catch

Central city retailers are struggling with fewer customers as more people work from home.

New Zealand retail sales in May continued growing but pressures on retailers remained, according to the Retail NZ Sales Index. 

The report found that the retail sales last month surged 37 per cent year on year and 30 per cent compared to May 2019. 

“The relatively positive results mask significant challenges across the retail sector, however, with some businesses underperforming,” said Greg Harford, CEO at Retail NZ. 

Harford said under-performing businesses include central city retail sites in the main centres where footfall traffic is still low as people work from home, and in Queenstown and Rotorua due to a lack of tourists. 

According to Harford, despite the positive growth of the country’s retail industry, retailers are still facing ‘substantial cost increases’, including the minimum wage, cost of managing employee sick leave, the cost of freight and the electricity price.

“All of these factors create significant challenges for retailers, and we will start to see price increases flowing through to customers over the coming months.” 

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