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Auckland lockdown drives quarterly retail-sales decline

(Source: Bigstock.)

Auckland’s five-week-long Level 4 lockdown devastated retail sales, according to data released by Stats NZ. 

While the region accounts for 35 per cent of the nation’s total sales, it contributed 78 per cent to the 15-per-cent fall in nationwide retail sales by value during the September quarter.

The Auckland region remained in the extended Level 4 lockdown for five weeks from August 17 to September 21, with only essential businesses open. The rest of New Zealand moved to alert Level 3 on August 31, then to alert Level 2 on September 7, with some further restrictions for the Northland region.

With the impact of price changes included, the seasonally adjusted total sales values fell 7 per cent (or by $2 billion) compared with the 4.2-per-cent ($1.1 billion) increase in the preceding June quarter.

“The country’s lockdowns in August and September resulted in lower sales across most retail industries,” said retail trade manager Sue Chapman.

By category, food and beverage services fell the most, down 19 per cent, compared with the 5.2 per cent increase in the June quarter.

Department store sales were down by 24 per cent, and hardware and building supplies by 15 per cent. 

Supermarket and grocery sales recorded the largest rise – up 7.5 per cent after the modest increase of 0.5 percent in the June quarter.

“The surge in supermarket sales had repeated what was seen in the first national lockdown last year, when grocery sales jumped to a record 8.6-per-cent rise in the March 2020 quarter,” said Chapman.

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