Retail sales decline overstated
Core retail and supermarket sales figures for the March quarter were not as severe as previously reported, Statistics New Zealand said today.
The department revised its figures after disbelief from economists and the supermarket industry over its March quarter retail trade figures released last month.
Core retail sales volumes fell 1.4 per cent between December 2011 and March this year, not 2.5 per cent, which would have been the worst figure for 17 years. By value they fell 1 per cent instead of 2 per cent.
The sticking point was the supermarket sales volumes, which were previously thought to have fallen a record 7.4 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
After the revision, they fell 3.9 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Supermarket sales by value dropped 3.1 per cent instead of 6.2 per cent.
Statistics New Zealand said the error was not immediately apparent when the figures were released.
However, after feedback from economists and supermarkets, they dug deeper and found the composition of supermarkets they sampled had changed between December and March.
The department had new methodology in place to ensure the problem did not occur in retail trade figures again, a spokesman said.
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