New Zealand retail spending grew at its fastest quarterly pace since December 2006 as the inflow of tourists for the Rugby World Cup bolstered consumer demand. The kiwi dollar gained on the report.
The total volume of spending grew 2.2 per cent to $16.97 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, according to Statistics New Zealand, beating the 0.7 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. Stripping out motor vehicle related spending, the core figure climbed 2.4 per cent.
The value of retail spending, which accounts for both sales volume growth and price hikes, climbed 2.1 per cent in the quarter to $17.32 billion, and was up 2.7 per cent when excluding auto-related spending.
"The increase in sales volumes coincided with the arrival of 80,000 overseas visitors here for the Rugby World Cup," industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said in a statement.
That world cup injection is the first time the event has shown up in spending figures, with electronic card spending muted in September, stoking fears the tournament might not have been the windfall everyone expected. Since then, spending on credit and debit cards in October showed some gains, and helped quell those earlier concerns.
The New Zealand dollar climbed to 79.22 US cents after the figures were released, from 78.87 cents immediately before.
Of the 15 industries surveyed, 13 reported increased sales volumes in the quarter, led by supermarket and grocery stores up 3.8 per cent to $4.31 billion, followed by accommodation up 6.5 per cent to $656 million. Spending on liquor grew 3.5 per cent to $329 million, while food and beverage services gained 1.7 per cent to $1.69 billion.
Statistics NZ said the value of accommodation was the biggest since the series began in 1995, with many respondents putting it down to the influx of visitors from the Rugby World Cup.
The volume of spending on furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textiles shrank 6 per cent to $404 million in quarter, while department store sales fell 0.1 per cent to $928 million.
The quarterly volume of spending on fuel rose a seasonally adjusted 1.2 per cent to $1.58 billion, while the value shrank 3 per cent to $1.8 billion in the period, the first decline since September last year.
The actual volume of spending rose 3.9 per cent to $16.47 billion compared to September 2010, while the actual value of sales rose 6.3 per cent to $16.85 billion from the same quarter a year earlier.
The gain in retail spending was across the board on a regional level, with sales up 3.6 per cent in the South Island and 2.2 per cent in the North Island.
Today's release comes after the ANZ Roy Morgan consumer confidence survey showed households are losing their optimism from earlier this year, heralding more bad news for retailers who have been struggling to deal tepid demand.
Since the global downturn three years ago, local households have preferred to use record low interest rates to repay debt rather than ramp up new spending, acting as a drag on New Zealand's economic recovery.
Actual retail stocks grew 5.5 per cent to $6.21 billion at the end of the September quarter compared to the same period a year ago, led by a 22 per cent lift in non-store and commission-based retailing to $104 million and a 19 per cent increase in fuel stocks to $95 million.
Supermarket and grocery stocks rose 10 per cent to $654 million at the end of the period, and liquor stocks rose 17 per cent to $166 million.