Retail sales recover in September 2020 quarter

Retail sales values recorded the largest September quarter rise since the series began in 1995, Stats NZ said today.

Spending on major household items, vehicles, and groceries contributed to the strong 7.4 percent ($1.8 billion) rise in total retail sales compared with the September 2019 quarter.

This quarter’s rise indicates a recovery for retail businesses, but it does not make up for the historic fall of 15 percent ($3.6 billion) in the COVID-19-affected June 2020 quarter.

Year ended SeptemberValueVolume

The total retail sales value for the 12-month period from October 2019 to September 2020 was $97.6 billion, down 0.2 percent ($172 million). In contrast, sales for the same period from 2018 to 2019 were $97.8 billion, up 4.0 percent ($3.7 billion).

“A strong September quarter has contributed to the year-ended sales coming in just shy of last year’s value,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

Sales value up for majority of regions

Fourteen of the 16 regions saw rises in retail sales values in the September 2020 quarter compared with the September 2019 quarter.

The Auckland region had the largest dollar value increase this quarter, up 3.6 percent ($315 million). Canterbury had the next largest increase in dollar terms, up 9.3 percent ($281 million).

These increases were followed by Waikato, up 12 percent ($266 million), Wellington, up 9.3 percent ($213 million), and Bay of Plenty, up 11 percent (168 million).

“While Auckland recorded the largest dollar value increase, in percentage terms the increase was lower than that for other main regions, partially due to a further lockdown period of levels 3 and 2 from 12 August,” Ms Chapman said.

Bay of Plenty6.64.911.3

Industry sales bounce back from lockdown

Motor vehicles and parts retailing had the largest rise in sales, up 13 percent ($454 million), closely followed by supermarket and grocery stores, up 8.4 percent ($429 million).

“Several vehicle dealers have commented on high demand for new and used vehicles this quarter, with some popular imported models being pre-sold before they arrived in New Zealand ports,” Ms Chapman said.

“In addition, we saw a significant fall in vehicle stock, down over $200 million this quarter.”

Food and liquor sales remained high from supermarket locations throughout New Zealand. Supermarkets remained open as an essential service over all the COVID-19 lockdown periods.

Hardware, building, and garden supplies, up 16 percent ($352 million), and electrical and electronic goods retailing, up 25 percent ($233 million), were the next largest increases.

Increased activity in the building industry in recent months and New Zealanders’ undertaking home improvements, have seen higher sales for hardware and building suppliers and electrical and electronic retailers. See Building consents issued: September 2020 for more information about building consents.

Motor vehicle and parts retailing332467753033718162553826010008
Supermarket and grocery stores492763648651008030765529372095
and garden supplies “119541660312477718291395226986
Electrical and electronic goods retailing223973522321633892861987308532
Department stores275657186929721920122879268358
Fuel retailing 902010184926491226816212507
Food and beverage services

Sales values for the fuel industry recorded the largest decrease this quarter mainly due to lower pump prices than in the September 2019 quarter.

“While the year-on-year spending is encouraging for most industries, the hospitality sector is still suffering the economic impacts of border restrictions and a further lockdown period imposed on the Auckland region for part of this quarter,” Ms Chapman said

After adjusting for price effects, the actual volume of total retail sales rose 8.3 percent in the September 2020 quarter compared with the September 2019 quarter.

Retail trade dashboard

Stats NZ’s new retail trade dashboard makes business data easier to understand. Find out how retail industries have performed over time: view, compare, and download data for a specific retail industry or several industries, or get data by geographical area.

/Stats NZ Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.