Retail sales retreated in December 2019, with less spent on long-lasting goods such as furniture, hardware, and appliances, after a very strong November, Stats NZ said today.

When adjusted for seasonal effects, retail spending fell 0.8 percent in the December 2019 month, after a strong 2.9 percent rise in the November 2019 month when sales were boosted by Black Friday and Singles’ Day promotions.
Spending fell in four of the six retail industries. The largest fall came from sales of furniture, hardware, appliances, and sports and recreational goods (durables) – down $37 million (2.5 percent).

“The dip in durables comes on the back of a very strong November month,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

Fuel industry sales were down $7.4 million (1.3 percent). Sales of clothes and shoes (apparel) were also lower, down $6.1 million (1.9 percent).

Spending on food and beverage services and accommodation (hospitality) were up 0.4 percent, and sales of groceries and liquor (consumables) were up 0.2 percent.

Core retail spending (which excludes the vehicle-related industries) fell 0.9 percent in December 2019 after a 2.8 percent rise in November.

The total value of electronic card spending, including the two non-retail categories (services and non-retail) fell 0.6 percent in December 2019. This follows a 0.9 percent rise in November.

In actual terms, retail spending using electronic cards in December 2019 topped $7 billion for the first time for any month, at $7.2 billion, up $273 million (3.9 percent) from December 2018.

In recent times, actual total retail card spending in a December month is over $1 billion more than the respective November month.

“While November is becoming more important for retailers with Singles’ Day and Black Friday sales, December is still the king,’’ Ms Chapman said.

Strong quarter in retail card spending
When adjusted for seasonal effects, retail card spending was up 1.0 percent in the December 2019 quarter. This followed a 0.8 percent rise in the September 2019 quarter.

Spending rose in five of the six retail industries when compared with the September 2019 quarter. The largest increase came from sales of furniture, hardware, appliances, and sports and recreational goods (durables), up $103 million (2.4 percent).

Spending on food and beverage services and accommodation (hospitality) had the second largest increase for the quarter, up $59 million (1.8 percent).

Groceries and liquor (consumables) and fuel retailing were up $39 million (0.6 percent) and $18 million (1.1 percent) respectively.

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