Retail Sales Growth Stable
Statistics New Zealand's retail trade figures for July 1999 show growth has stabilised in recent months. After growing strongly in the second half of 1998 retail sales are now increasing at a slower but steady rate. Between July 1998 and January 1999 sales increased by 2.5 per cent but since the beginning of this year they have only increased 1.6 per cent.
Despite the positive trend, seasonally adjusted sales show a marginal decrease in July. However, this result should be treated with some caution. Allowing for a trading pattern (caused by the variation in the number of week and weekend days in a month) analysis suggests activity between June and July would have recorded a slight increase. School holidays fell entirely in July in 1998 but began on June 26 this year. This appears to have had little influence on trading in the traditionally affected areas, such as accommodation, hotels and liquor; and cafes, restaurants and takeaways storetypes. Seasonally adjusted sales increased in both these storetypes, with the increase in the accommodation, hotels and liquor storetype being the largest this month. Growth in tourism numbers and heavy snowfalls during July may have contributed toward the improved result.
The increase in seasonally adjusted sales in the motor vehicle services storetype, reflects petrol price rises which occurred during July. The food retailing storetype also increased this month in line with the 0.5 per cent rise in the Food Price Index.