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Gadgets give retail sales a charge

Robust spending on electronics such as appliances, mobile phones, and computers helped to boost total retail sales volumes in the September 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for price and seasonal effects, the volume of total retail sales rose a solid 1.6 percent, after a modest 0.2 percent rise in the June 2019 quarter.

Electrical and electronic goods retailing had the largest rise of all 15 retail industries, with sales volumes up 4.4 percent after increasing 5.2 percent in the June quarter.

This industry includes retailing for electrical appliances, mobile phones, and computer and technical equipment.

“Higher electronic sales volumes in the quarter coincided with some retailers promoting sales of big screen televisions before the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which started near the end of September,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

The electrical and electronic goods industry has shown consistent growth for over seven years, after a slight fall in March 2012.

“Products like TVs, computers, and mobile phones are getting cheaper, and New Zealanders are buying more of them,” Ms Chapman said.

Despite falling prices, sales values of this industry were up 3.4 percent in the September quarter.

Prices are adjusted to reflect quality changes. This includes allowances for technological enhancements, such as capacity and speed.

“At the same time as a rise in sales volumes and values, electronics retailers also boosted inventories significantly this year – up more than 20 percent compared with the September quarter in 2018,” Ms Chapman said.

In total, 11 of the 15 retail industries had higher sales volumes in the September 2019 quarter.

The second-largest increase was in department stores, up 3.5 percent this quarter following a 3.1 percent fall in the June 2019 quarter.

Accommodation had the largest fall, down 1.4 percent this quarter after a 1.6 percent rise in the June 2019 quarter.

Groceries lift sales value up

When the effects of price changes are included, total retail sales rose 1.4 percent ($333 million) in the September quarter, following a 0.7 percent ($164 million) rise in the June quarter.

Supermarket and grocery stores drove the total sales value up this quarter, with the largest increase of 1.7 percent ($88 million). This was followed by a 0.4 percent dip in the June quarter.

The largest decrease in the September quarter was in fuel retailing, down 2.8 percent ($64 million) after a 2.3 percent ($50 million) rise in June. In the same period, fuel prices fell 1.7 percent.

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales was $23.8 billion in the September quarter, up 4.2 percent ($961 million) from the September 2018 quarter.

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