NZ: Retail Trade

Wed May 13 17:45:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Q/Q percent change 1.5% 2.7% 1.7% 1.6%
Y/Y percent change 5.4% 4.7%


March quarter total sales value was up 1.7 percent and 5.4 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Fuel retailing, down due to lower prices, was the only retail industry to have lower sales. After removing the impact of price changes, total retail sales volumes jumped 7.4 percent in the March quarter compared with the same quarter last year. This was the largest volume increase in dollar terms since this series began just over a decade ago. After removing the impact of seasonality, the volume of total retail trade sales rose a record 2.7 percent in the March 2015 quarter compared with the December 2014 quarter.

Electrical and electronics stores had a really strong quarter. Discussions with retailers suggested that there was no one thing in particular behind this, but there may be a strengthening back to school effect. This seems to mean that spending on things like laptops and tablets is having an impact on overall spending at the start of the school year.

The largest seasonally adjusted industry sales volume movements were electrical & electronic goods retailing, up 8.9 percent, fuel retailing, up 3.5 percent and hardware, building and garden supplies, up 3.9 percent. The volume of sales in core retail (which excludes the vehicle related industries) rose a record 2.9 percent.

Retail trade data tracks changes in New Zealand retail sales. As consumption contributes heavily to New Zealand's GDP, a rising retail sales figure can be indicative of rising demand and subsequent inflation. While strong economic growth is typically good for the New Zealand economy, uncontrolled growth and rising inflation may lead to instability and corrective action from New Zealand's central bank. The release was recently changed from monthly to quarterly. The headline numbers are the percentage change in retail trade from the previous quarter and the percentage change in retail trade from the previous year.

Consumer spending accounts a large portion of the economy, so if you know how consumers are behaving, your will have a good indication as to where the economy is headed. Needless to say, that is a big advantage for investors. The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth. Retail sales not only give you a sense of the big picture, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Perhaps auto sales are especially strong or apparel sales are showing exceptional weakness. These trends from the retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for a company's quarterly or annual report.