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Continued Growth in Wholesale Activity - Stats NZ

Wholesale Trade Survey: December 1999 quarter

Continued Growth in Wholesale Activity

Wholesale activity in the December 1999 quarter increased 1.4 per cent from the previous quarter according to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. The Wholesale Trade Survey has now recorded three successive quarters of growth which has given rise to an 11.4 per cent increase in sales since the March quarter of 1999.

The underlying trend in wholesale activity has now been growing steadily since June of 1998. The major contributors to the increased activity in December were the primary food and sundry wholesale trade sectors.

While trend sales for primary food have increased sharply over the past two quarters, sales levels have only just returned to values first recorded in December 1998. The sector was hampered by two successive droughts and a decrease in demand from some key Asian markets over the first half of 1999. An increase in dairy exports has largely driven the recovery, influenced by a rise in dairy product commodity prices and favourable currency movements. Stock levels in this sector have also increased this quarter, following four successive falls. The industry has benefited from a mild winter and early spring which encouraged solid grass growth and an increase in livestock numbers. This has given rise to a strong build up of dairy and meat stocks.

Food and grocery products recorded a sizeable increase in sales this quarter, following strong demand for food and liquor products leading up to the millennium. Stock levels in this sector approached a three-year high, and may partly reflect a position taken by wholesalers to cope with possible Y2K disruptions. The Retail Trade Survey also pointed to higher than normal stock levels in the December quarter. Rising crude oil prices over the latter half of 1999 has contributed to another increase in sales for the petroleum and petroleum products sector. Seasonally adjusted sales have now increased by 25.1 per cent since March 1999.

Len Cook Government Statistician

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