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March Quarter Retail Sales Increase

May 2002

Seasonally adjusted total retail sales increased 2.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter compared with the December 2001 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. This was a result of monthly increases of 0.6 percent in January 2002 and 2.0 percent in February 2002, combined with a fall of 0.8 percent in the March 2002 month.

The growth seen in the March 2002 quarter was broad based, with all 15 storetypes recording higher seasonally adjusted sales, compared with the December 2001 quarter. The largest increase occurred in the food retailing storetype, followed by motor vehicle services.

Seasonally adjusted sales volumes rose 2.2 percent in the March 2002 quarter (after taking into account a 0.4 percent increase in price over the quarter) compared with the December 2001 quarter. This follows a 2.1 percent volume rise in the December 2001 quarter.

Seasonally adjusted sales for the core retailing group (excluding motor vehicle services and retailing storetypes) increased 2.8 percent in the March 2002 quarter, compared with the December 2001 quarter. When adjusted for a 0.3 percent price increase, seasonally adjusted sales volumes rose by 2.5 percent over the same period.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday fell in the month of March this year for the first time since 1997. As a result, March 2002 had less trading days than previous March months due to stores closing on these public holidays. As there is insufficient data to support analysis of an Easter effect, the impact that this loss of trading days has had on sales estimates is difficult to quantify.

The trend in total retail sales continues to grow. The average quarterly growth since the last turning point in June 1998 is 1.7 percent per quarter. Quarterly Retail Sales

Brian Pink Government Statistician

END

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