Plunging prices pushing sales

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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People are buying more electronics bargains, as prices continue to fall for items like cellphones, televisions and computers.

Statistics New Zealand figures yesterday showed the volume of retail sales rose 0.7 per cent in the March quarter, compared with a lift of 1.4 per cent in the previous quarter.

The lift in spending was widespread, with the biggest gain being sales of electrical and electronics goods, which jumped 5.5 per cent in the quarter, the biggest move for any sector. And the trend in the volumes of electronics sold has been rising for six years.

Infometrics said falling prices, resulting from a high New Zealand dollar, had boosted sales during the quarter.

Indeed, electronics prices were the lowest they have ever been, and had continually fallen since mid-2009.

Over the past year electronics and electronic good sales have increased 15.7 per cent, offsetting falling prices, such that the value of sales for electrical and electronic goods rose $29m during the quarter.

At the same time Statistics New Zealand has reported a 21.2 per cent drop in the price of telecommunication equipment - cellphone handsets and telephones - in the year to March.

Since 2004 the consumer price index showed the price of computing equipment is down 67 per cent, and audio visual equipment is down 84.3 per cent.

Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck said electronics spending was consistent with the rise of the NZ dollar against the yen.

In other areas, hardware, building and garden supplies retailing was up 2 per cent.

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales was $18.3 billion in the March 2014 quarter, up 3.4 per cent from the March 2013 quarter.

ASB economist Daniel Smith said, despite the upward spending, a 0.7 per cent fall in supermarket and grocery sales was "puzzling".

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