December sales dip after strong November

Retail sales retreated in December 2019, with less spent on long-lasting goods such as furniture, hardware, and appliances, after a very strong November, Stats NZ said today.

When adjusted for seasonal effects, retail spending fell 0.8 percent in the December 2019 month, after a strong 2.9 percent rise in the November 2019 month when sales were boosted by Black Friday and Singles’ Day promotions.

Month Percent
Dec-16 0.8
Jan-17 3.3
Feb-17 -0.6
Mar-17 -0.1
Apr-17 1.1
May-17 0.1
Jun-17 -0.2
Jul-17 0.1
Aug-17 0.2
Sep-17 0.1
Oct-17 1.1
Nov-17 1.3
Dec-17 0.5
Jan-18 0.4
Feb-18 -0.4
Mar-18 1.6
Apr-18 -2
May-18 1.1
Jun-18 0.8
Jul-18 0.4
Aug-18 0.8
Sep-18 0.8
Oct-18 0.3
Nov-18 -0.7
Dec-18 -1.3
Jan-19 1.2
Feb-19 0.2
Mar-19 -0.2
Apr-19 1
May-19 -0.6
Jun-19 0.3
Jul-19 0
Aug-19 1.2
Sep-19 0.3
Oct-19 -0.5
Nov-19 2.9
Dec-19 -0.8

Spending fell in four of the six retail industries. The largest fall came from sales of furniture, hardware, appliances, and sports and recreational goods (durables) – down $37 million (2.5 percent).

“The dip in durables comes on the back of a very strong November month,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

Fuel industry sales were down $7.4 million (1.3 percent). Sales of clothes and shoes (apparel) were also lower, down $6.1 million (1.9 percent).

Spending on food and beverage services and accommodation (hospitality) were up 0.4 percent, and sales of groceries and liquor (consumables) were up 0.2 percent.

Industry $
Consumables 4671000
Hospitality 4265000
Motor vehicles (excluding fuel) -2775000
Apparel -6093000
Fuel -7410000
Durables -36955000
Services -2968000
Non-retail (excluding services) -47375000

Core retail spending (which excludes the vehicle-related industries) fell 0.9 percent in December 2019 after a 2.8 percent rise in November.

The total value of electronic card spending, including the two non-retail categories (services and non-retail) fell 0.6 percent in December 2019. This follows a 0.9 percent rise in November.

In actual terms, retail spending using electronic cards in December 2019 topped $7 billion for the first time for any month, at $7.2 billion, up $273 million (3.9 percent) from December 2018.

In recent times, actual total retail card spending in a December month is over $1 billion more than the respective November month.

“While November is becoming more important for retailers with Singles’ Day and Black Friday sales, December is still the king,” Ms Chapman said.

Month $
Dec-16 6463138000
Jan-17 5211440000
Feb-17 4841065000
Mar-17 5324144000
Apr-17 5115503000
May-17 5108313000
Jun-17 4938537000
Jul-17 5044579000
Aug-17 4991640000
Sep-17 5015129000
Oct-17 5353316000
Nov-17 5611925000
Dec-17 6857121000
Jan-18 5447024000
Feb-18 5056625000
Mar-18 5698874000
Apr-18 5211612000
May-18 5336930000
Jun-18 5202179000
Jul-18 5255893000
Aug-18 5319596000
Sep-18 5314370000
Oct-18 5680681000
Nov-18 5874061000
Dec-18 6936024000
Jan-19 5653182000
Feb-19 5238730000
Mar-19 5754460000
Apr-19 5470002000
May-19 5520094000
Jun-19 5280275000
Jul-19 5359308000
Aug-19 5485007000
Sep-19 5345536000
Oct-19 5769564000
Nov-19 6171222000
Dec-19 7209206000

Strong quarter in retail card spending

When adjusted for seasonal effects, retail card spending was up 1.0 percent in the December 2019 quarter. This followed a 0.8 percent rise in the September 2019 quarter.

Quarter Percentage
Dec-11 1.3
Mar-12 0.8
Jun-12 1.4
Sep-12 1.5
Dec-12 1.1
Mar-13 1.4
Jun-13 1.6
Sep-13 1.8
Dec-13 1.1
Mar-14 1.1
Jun-14 1.2
Sep-14 0.6
Dec-14 0.9
Mar-15 1.4
Jun-15 1
Sep-15 1.8
Dec-15 1.8
Mar-16 0.5
Jun-16 1.7
Sep-16 1.2
Dec-16 1.4
Mar-17 0.7
Jun-17 0.8
Sep-17 0.3
Dec-17 1.2
Mar-18 1.6
Jun-18 -0.2
Sep-18 2.3
Dec-18 -0.4
Mar-19 0.7
Jun-19 0.3
Sep-19 0.8
Dec-19 1

Spending rose in five of the six retail industries when compared with the September 2019 quarter. The largest increase came from sales of furniture, hardware, appliances, and sports and recreational goods (durables), up $103 million (2.4 percent).

Spending on food and beverage services and accommodation (hospitality) had the second largest increase for the quarter, up $59 million (1.8 percent).

Groceries and liquor (consumables) and fuel retailing were up $39 million (0.6 percent) and $18 million (1.1 percent) respectively.

Industry $
Durables 102503000
Hospitality 58951000
Consumables 39311000
Fuel 18405000
Motor vehicles (excluding fuel) 4035000
Apparel -3593000
Services 21139000
Non-retail (excluding services) -32864000

/Stats NZ Public Release. View in full here.