New Zealand: Retail sales fall more than expected in December
February 14, 2011
In December, nominal retail sales contracted 1.1% over the previous month in seasonally adjusted terms. The reading contrasted the revised 1.2% expansion observed in November (previously reported: +1.5% month-on-month) and fell short of market expectations, which had retail sales falling a more moderate 0.4%. The monthly drop reflected lower sales in nine out of the 15 categories that comprise the retail sales index. In particular, supermarket groceries as well as motor vehicles and parts reported lower sales over the previous month. On an annual basis, retail sales expanded 1.0% in December, more than half the previous month's 2.7% increase. In the fourth quarter, retail sales dropped 0.1% in seasonally adjusted terms, which was virtually unchanged from the flat reading registered in the third quarter, but overshot market expectations of a 0.5% contraction. As a result of the December deterioration, the trend continues to point to a faltering recovery, with the annual average variation in retail sales falling from 4.0% in November to 3.8% in December.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist