Retail sales dropped 0.6% in February – in defiance of consensus market forecast of a rise of 0.2%.
Core retail – that is, sales outside the motor vehicle related categories –fell further, by 0.9%, or $35 million, Statistics New Zealand reported this morning.
For the core retail area this is the second consecutive fall. Six industries – department stores, appliances, supermarkets, café and restaurants, recreational goods, and motor vehicles – recorded falls worth more than $5 million.
February usually sees a drop-off in sales in real terms because consumers are getting over the pre-Christmas and holiday spend ups and are hyper-conscious of their credit card bills.
However these figures are seasonally adjusted and although the average forecast by economists was for lonely modest rise few were expecting such a pronounced drop.
The trend, furthermore, is down. Two years ago total actual retail sales, ex GST were worth $5.442 billion for February. This month the value was $5.186 billion – a 6.7% drop.
For the core retail is the second large drop in three months, and the last of these, in December, was, at 2%, the largest monthly drop ever.
“The core retail sales trend is falling for the first time since 1995,down 1% since October 2009,” said government statistician Geoff Bascand.
“This follows two and a half years of slower than average growth.”
Over the full year to February, however, core retail sales rose 7.2% in value, from $65.774 billion in the year to February 2009 to $70.512 billion for the last 12 months.
Wed, 14 Apr 2010