Retail spending rises in first quarter of 2021

Higher retail spending on electronic items and outdoor recreational goods this summer helped boost overall spending in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for price and seasonal affects, the total retail sales volume rose 2.5 percent in the March 2021 quarter following a 2.6 percent fall in the December 2020 quarter.

Electrical and electronic goods had the largest increase, up 8.4 percent followed by recreational goods, up 16 percent in the March 2021 quarter. Both industries had falls in the December 2020 quarter, down 0.3 percent and 14 percent respectively.

“Higher spending in the electrical industry coincides with falling prices for computers and phones during the first quarter of 2021,” retail business manager Sue Chapman said.

“In addition, recreational and outdoor sporting goods were top of the list for many New Zealanders over the summer holiday break. Many were enjoying the ability to travel around the country for camping, water or biking activities, and the opportunity to attend large events such as the America’s Cup.”


March year summary

In actual terms using year-on-year movements, total retail sales values rose $1.6 billion (6.5 percent) in the March 2021 quarter after the $1.3 million (4.9 percent) rise in the December 2020 quarter.

A year on from the country’s level 4 lockdown that began in the last week of March 2020, we have seen a year of uneven spending across the retail sector. Some industries have shown stronger sales while others were negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Industries that have remained strong over the year to March 2021 were:

  • motor vehicles and parts, up 24 percent ($740 million)
  • hardware, building, and garden supplies, up 19 percent ($407 million)
  • electrical and electronic goods, up 26 percent ($239 million).

Supermarket and grocery stores had mixed results throughout the COVID-19 year while remaining open as essential businesses. This quarter they have fallen a record 5.2 percent ($309 million) compared with the peak increase of 13 percent ($665 million) in the March 2020 quarter.

Industries that showed consecutive falls throughout the year were fuel retailing, down 6.1 percent ($137 million), and accommodation, down 10 percent ($128 million) compared with the same period last year.

Electrical and electronic goods retailing359030325438924200684626244671
Motor vehicle and parts retailing131820330921310831241613984923314
and garden supplies”425976033942833046453411777708
Fuel retailing

Building supplies boost sales values

When the effects of price changes are included, the seasonal adjusted value of total retail trade sale rose 2.5 percent ($648 million) following a fall of 1.2 percent ($328 million) in the December 2020 quarter.

Hardware, building, and garden supplies had the largest dollar value increase, up $144 million (5.6 percent) after a modest fall of $15 million (0.6 percent) in the December 2020 quarter.

Recreational goods, up $109 million (16 percent), and motor vehicles and parts retailing, up $95 million (2.5 percent) were the next largest increases this quarter compared with December 2020 quarter.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.