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Retail Sales Boosted by Easter and ANZAC Break

Retail Trade Survey: April 2000

Retail sales increased by 0.3 per cent in April 2000, although figures released today by Statistics New Zealand also show the rate of growth in the underlying sales trend is easing. Despite this apparent recent slowing in the rate of sales growth, the trend has grown strongly over the past two years, gaining 10.4 per cent.

After contributing strongly to the March quarter result, motor vehicle retailing eased back in April 2000 and as a result seasonally adjusted sales, excluding motor vehicle storetypes, were stronger, increasing by 0.9 per cent.

Despite higher home mortgage interest rates and petrol prices impacting on households' buying power, accommodation, hotels and liquor retailing; and cafes, restaurants and takeaways recorded increases this month. The combined Easter and ANZAC Day holiday is likely to have boosted the number of domestic holiday makers with an increase in the number of short-term visitor arrivals further contributing to the result. Regions containing popular holiday destinations had the highest regional increase in retail sales this month.

The trend for building consents issued for new dwellings has been falling since August 1999 and this appears to be impacting on consumer spending. The building related storetypes of appliance retailing, furniture and floor coverings; and hardware have recorded a downturn in the underlying trend sales. Wholesale activity in the building related trades is also reflecting this reduced activity with lower sales levels and higher stock levels in the March 2000 quarter.

Ian Ewing

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