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Retail Sales Remain Flat

Retail Trade Survey - June 1999 quarter
Retail Sales Remain Flat

Statistics New Zealand's retail trade figures for June 1999, show the underlying sales trend has remained flat. Since the beginning of this year the trend has increased 1.2 per cent.

With seasonal variations removed, sales for the June month appear to be showing stronger growth. However, this result needs to be treated with caution. The timing of school holidays and Queen's Birthday weekend this year, compared with 1998, have caused some volatility in June. Also affecting the data is a recently identified trading day pattern (caused by the variation in the number of week and weekend days in a month). Preliminary investigations suggest that two-thirds of June's 2.9 per cent increase in seasonally adjusted sales is due to trading day effects.

This effect is less between quarters than between months. June 1999 quarter seasonally adjusted sales were unchanged from the March quarter. With inflation effects removed, a small rise in the volume of retail activity was recorded. However, this was the smallest increase recorded for four quarters. These quarterly results confirm the flatness of the retail sector portrayed by the monthly trend series. When seasonal variations are removed, the food retailing storetype recorded its first decrease in sales for almost four years. This is consistent with the Food Price Index which fell 0.6 per cent between March and June.

Most storetypes recorded price increases between the two June quarters. The main exceptions were motor vehicle retailing and motor vehicle servicing. New entrants to the North Island petrol retailing market in the early part of 1998 led to reduced petrol prices. However, as shown by the motor vehicles services price index, the impact of the new players is beginning to ease.

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