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NZ retail sales gain 0.7% in first quarter, below forecast

NZ retail sales gain 0.7% in first quarter, less than expected, as electrical goods rise, groceries fall

By Tina Morrison

May 14 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand retail sales rose less than expected in the first quarter, with electrical and electronic goods leading the gains, while supermarket and grocery sales fell.

The volume of retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in the first three months of 2014, according to Statistics New Zealand, less than the 0.8 percent expected by economists in a Reuters survey. Actual sales were up 3.4 percent in value from the same quarter a year earlier, lagging the 3.7 percent estimate in the Reuters survey.

Retail sales are increasing as consumer confidence remains perky in an expanding economy. The Reserve Bank last month lifted its expectation for gross domestic product growth in the year ended March 31 by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.5 percent saying "economic expansion has considerable momentum."

Figures for the fourth quarter were revised up to a seasonally adjusted gain of 1.4 percent from the previously published 1.2 percent increase, suggesting retail sales growth in the second half of 2013 was more robust.

Excluding fuel and vehicle-related spending, core retail sales in the first quarter rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent from the previous quarter.

Sales in electrical and electronic goods led the quarterly increase in volumes, up 5.5 percent following a 3.7 percent gain in the fourth quarter. Hardware, building and garden supplies rose 2 percent in the first quarter while food and beverage sales increased 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, sales in the supermarket and grocery stores declined 0.7 percent and sales of furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textiles fell 2.4 percent.

Fuel retailing, which isn't seasonally adjusted, fell 0.6 percent in the latest quarter. Vehicle spending rose 0.6 percent.


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