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Trend in retail sales continues to grow

Retail Trade Survey - April 1999

The underlying trend in retail sales has been growing for a year according to Statistics New Zealand's retail trade figures. Total sales have increased 4.1 per cent since April 1998. Over the last six months only hardware and motor vehicle retailing have recorded declining sales trends.

This result is consistent with reports of increasing consumer confidence, and is further evidence of economic growth driven by domestic demand. In general, the April figures suggest growth in the actual retail sector is continuing.

Despite the positive trend, retail sales in April 1999 were lower than in March when seasonal factors were removed. The 0.8 per cent fall in seasonally adjusted sales is the largest decrease recorded since August 1998. The change in the timing of Easter may have contributed to the decline. Good Friday occurred on 10 April in 1998, but in 1999 it was on April 2. As a result, some pre-Easter purchases would have been recorded in the previous month. This is reflected in the 1.9 per cent growth in seasonally adjusted sales for March 1999.

In recent months the growth in retail sales has been spread across most storetypes. However, between March and April 1999, nine of the 15 storetypes recorded falls in sales. Food retailing sales appear to have been particularly affected by the change in the timing of Easter. The $22 million fall for this storetype accounted for about three-quarters of the overall decline in spending.

Ian Ewing

DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

17 June 1999

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