Retail sales fall in September quarter
Retail spending fell by $139 million in the three months to the end of September, with shoppers tightening their belts at supermarkets, petrol pumps, car yards and auto stores.
The only retail industry to take significantly more through the tills in the quarter was hardware, building and garden supplies - thanks to higher sales in Canterbury.
The value of retail sales around the country fell 0.8 per cent in the quarter compared with the three months ending June, according to seasonally adjusted Statistics New Zealand figures. That compared with a 1.1 per cent rise in the second quarter.
Eight of the 15 retail industries suffered spending declines.
Worst hit were supermarkets and grocery stores - with sales values down 1.6 per cent or $66m, followed by motor vehicle and parts retailing - down 1.8 per cent or $41m, and fuel retailing - down 1.9 per cent or $35m.
Total sales volumes fell 0.4 per cent for the quarter. Economists had picked a quarterly rise in total consumer spending of 0.5 per cent, according to a Reuters poll, down from the 1.3 per cent gain seen in the second quarter.
Statistics said the volume of supermarket and grocery sales was down 1.5 per cent in the quarter, when prices rose 0.8 per cent - less than usual.
The volume of motor vehicle and parts sales fell 0.9 per cent after two strong quarters, while prices in the category fell 0.9 per cent thanks in part to lower prices for secondhand cars.
The volume of fuel sales decreased 1 per cent, and prices also fell by 0.9 per cent.
Excluding fuel and vehicle-related industries, the value of retail sales slipped 0.5 per cent or $63m in the quarter.
Hardware, building and garden supplies sales lifted by 3.6 per cent, or $42m, after volumes lifted 4.2 per cent and prices in the sector firmed by 0.1 per cent. The rise is the largest in the industry since December 2009.
Retail sales in the North Island fell slightly, 0.4 per cent or $51m in the quarter, after the value of sales of Waikato and the rest of the North Island fell by 0.9 per cent ($16m) and 4 per cent ($145m) respectively.
Wellington and Auckland bucked the trend with rises of 0.6 per cent ($11m) and 1.7 per cent ($100m) respectively.
Sales in the South Island rose 0.7 per cent or $30m on the June quarter, with Canterbury up 3.4 per cent or $80m and the rest of the South Island down 2.5 per cent or $50m.