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Retail Sales Grow

Retail Trade Survey - March 2001

Seasonally adjusted retail sales for the March 2001 month were 0.9 percent higher than in February 2001, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand. Seasonally adjusted sales also increased in the March 2001 quarter, up 1.8 per cent, compared with the December 2000 quarter. This is double the previous quarter's movement. When the effects of price increases are removed, retail sales increased by 1.4 per cent this quarter.

Sales growth was broadly based, with 12 of the 15 storetypes recording an increase in seasonally adjusted sales this quarter, when compared with the December 2000 quarter. The largest contributors to this quarter's increase were the motor vehicle retailing and food retailing storetypes. Decreases in the motor vehicle services, appliance retailing and 'other stores' storetypes partially offset the rises.

The latest results continue a pattern of growth seen in the trend over the past two and three quarters years. The trend has increased 16.0 per cent during this period. Adjusting for inflation reduces the gain to 8.6 per cent, indicating that just over half the growth in the trend is attributable to price increases. The increase in the retail sales trend follows a comparative plateau between the beginning of 1996 and the first half of 1998, where the gains were under 1 per cent.

Recent volatility in petrol prices was reflected in sales values for the motor vehicle services storetype this quarter. If the effect of the 4.7 per cent fall in petrol prices in the March quarter is removed, the volume of retail sales for the motor vehicle services storetype increased by 4.3 per cent in the March 2000 quarter. This follows a 2.2 per cent decline in volume in the December 2000 quarter.

After removing the effect of a 2.7 per cent increase in prices, the volume of sales for food retailing declined 1.1 per cent in the March 2001 quarter. The trend in the total value of food sales remains positive, increasing by 5.9 per cent since the March 2000 quarter. However, with the effects of inflation removed, the increase in the volume of sales was 1.5 per cent over the same period.



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