Big jump in fruit exports push wholesale trade gains in third quarter

Gocery, liquor and tobacco sales made their biggest quarterly gain since 1995.

New Zealand wholesale trade rose in the third quarter as a jump in fruit exports drove the biggest quarterly gain in sales of grocery, liquor and tobacco in more than 20 years.

Seasonally adjusted sales rose 3.1% in the three months ended September 30, accelerating from a 0.1% increase in June, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Sales of grocery, liquor and tobacco, rose 5.3% in their biggest quarterly gain since the series began in March 1995, pushed by an 8.8% increase in fruit exports.

Previous government data showed merchandise exports of fruit jumped 48% to $732 million in the September quarter from a year earlier, while more recent figures show fruit sales to foreign nations were up 29% to $2.28 billion in the year ended October 31.

Wholesale trade covers intermediary transactions between manufacturers and consumers, which feeds into the national accounts and is used by economists to predict wider economic activity.

Statistics NZ changed its methodology in collecting data for the September survey to use more administrative data and reduce its reliance on surveys, while also ending its split of raw materials and finished goods in measuring total stocks.

Today's figures showed wholesale inventories were built up for a fourth quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, rising 1.6%. On an unadjusted basis, stocks were 5.8% higher than a year earlier.

Actual wholesale sales rose 3.1% to $23.63 billion in the quarter from the same period a year earlier, turning around a 0.4% decline in the June quarter.

Seasonally adjusted sales of basic materials were the second biggest gainer in the quarter, up 3.4%, followed by a 2.5% rise in other goods.

Sales of motor vehicles and parts gained 1.8% and machinery and equipment sales increased 1.1%. Commission-based sales was the only sector to decline, falling 0.1% in the quarter.