New spending figures show Taranaki retailers have gone backwards despite a record level of business and consumer confidence in the region.
The ANZ Regional Trends survey for the three months to June showed Taranaki had the largest dropoff in retail sales in the country.
Released yesterday the survey showed the June quarter retail sales in Taranaki of $351.9 million were 4.6 per cent less than the previous quarter and 5.9 per cent down for the year.
That was against the national trend which saw retail sales rise an average of 1.7 per cent for the June quarter and 4.2 per cent for the year.
The decrease in Taranaki shop till activity covered the same period in which a Venture Taranaki survey found business optimism here at record levels.
Taranaki Chamber of Commerce general manager, Judith Gilmer, said the retail downturn was most likely explained by the tail end of the drought.
"And spending in the region is cyclical. Farmers are not spending as much during the winter and other factors like that. I think retail is a changing industry. There is definitely more people going to the web and using online shopping."
That shift made customer service increasingly important as face-to-face interaction between retailer and customer could not be replicated online, she said.
Despite shoppers spending less they pulled out the plastic more often, making $277m in eftpos transactions in the three months to June, an increase of 2.6 per cent on the previous three months and in line with the national trend.
Rural real estate sales in the June quarter were the other standout feature in Taranaki with the 80 sales representing a 27 per cent increase on the previous period and a 42.9 per cent increase on the previous year.
The annual change for the rest of the country was 19.2 per cent.
McDonald Real Estate owner Peter McDonald said farm sale inquiries in the last three months were the strongest in three years.
"But when you are looking at such small numbers it could be just two or three sales more that have pushed our figures up, so you can't read a lot into that.
"However, we are getting positive and strong inquiries. It's been a pretty good spring. The farms are looking a lot more marketable," he said.
Business confidence in the region dropped by 4.6 points in the June quarter but was up 7.9 points on the same time last year.
Consumer confidence had increased by more than double that, going up 5.9 points in the three months to June and 17 points for the year.
Last month, Venture Taranaki said business confidence was at a 13-year high in Taranaki, with almost 60 per cent of businesses expecting the economy to improve in the next 12 months. Chief executive Stuart Trundle yesterday said their own research had found the fundamentals of Taranaki's economy were still "incredibly strong".
"The outlook for Taranaki remains buoyant, and opportunities exist for innovation and entrepreneurship in all sectors of the regional economy," he said.
The survey also found Taranaki houses took an average of 56 days to sell in the June quarter and the median house price during that period was $286,500 against a New Zealand wide median of $390,300.
There was a 30.2 per cent increase in new car registrations with 850 new cars on Taranaki roads. Job advertisements on the internet increased by 6.5 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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