Buoyant house sales continue to underpin positive growth in the Whanganui district according to latest data compiled by Business Whanganui.
Business Whanganui is under the umbrella of Whanganui and Partners, the district council's economic development unit and manager Chris Heywood said what was happening in our district was reflecting a general trend nationally.
Mr Heywood said house sales led the way in the local economy with yet again good sales recorded in May.
"Once again the local indicators we monitor are still showing positive growth which is good for Whanganui," he said.
In first half of the year activity across a number of sectors showed Whanganui had enjoyed some solid rather than spectacular improvement.
There's been a 30 per cent increase in house sales, new vehicle sales continued to pick up, while electronic card sales are steadily growing. And tourism numbers continue to improve with 3.5 per cent growth in the 12 months ended May this year.
Electronic cards activity at retail points in the city and district in May showed the biggest spending occurred in hardware and homeware, with bars, cafes and restaurants still showing continued growth. The bottom three sectors were fuel, apparel and accommodation.
Mr Heywood said drop in spending on fuel could probably be put down to lower pump prices, while the apparel sector was currently flat.
"But in the area of accommodation, this only reflects card sales and isn't indicative of tourism which is still growing," he said.
There was still plenty of spending in businesses such as furniture and flooring and other retailing. Compared to May last year, homeware/hardware sales were more than 14 per cent up, and nearly 10 per cent up in bars, cafes and restaurants.
Whanganui's data matches the national figure and across the wider Whanganui-Manawatu region, our district lies in third place behind Ruapehu and Rangitikei.
Mr Heywood said it was in the area of house sales where the really positive signs were showing.
He said REINZ data showed house sales in May were about 30 per cent up on the same month last year, and sales volumes were 8 per cent ahead of April's figures too. The median house price in May was $238,000, about $17,000 up on May last year.
The median price for Whanganui properties rose 17 per cent compared to May 2015, and jumped 18 per cent from the April median. The positive sign is that houses are on the market for fewer days before they sell.
According to a REINZ spokesperson, first-homer buyers were active across the Whanganui-Manawatu region "although investors appear to have taken a step back from the market".
Motor Industry Association (MIA) figures indicated another good month for new vehicle sales in May. There were 70 vehicles sold in the month, up on the 52 sold in the same month of the previous year pushing the moving average growth to 2.1 per cent.
The MIA said there were large fluctuations in sales from month to month but the overall trend was still in positive territory.
"The trend over the medium term still remains positive in spite of the erratic nature of sales in this sector," a spokesperson said.