Headline New Zealand retail sales volumes rose 0.8% for the fourth quarter of 2016 following a revised 0.8% increase for the third quarter which was originally reported as 0.9%. The increase was below consensus expectations of a 1.0% increase while the year-on-year increase slowed to 4.2% from 5.1% previously.
Underlying sales rose 0.6% on the quarter following a revised 0.2% gain the previous quarter with annual growth of 3.8% from 5.0% previously.
11 of the 15 retail sectors advanced for the quarter with a gain of 1.9% for motor-vehicle and parts. The sharpest decline was seen in non-store and commission-based retailing which declined 5.6% following a 5.2% decline the previous quarter, although this is a very volatile sector and the declines following substantial sales increases over the previous seven quarters. There was also a significant decline in clothing and footwear sales for the quarter.
In annual terms, the strongest gain came from electrical and electronic goods sales with a 9.2% gain. All sectors recorded positive growth over the year, although sales at supermarket and grocery stores rose only 0.1% with specialised food sales also weak at 0.5%.
There has not been any significant shift in trend estimates over the past few quarters and underlying sales growth is likely to remain firm in the short term. The data is unlikely to have any significant near-term policy implications, especially as it is relatively dated, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand waiting for further evidence on underlying inflation pressures within the economy.
The New Zealand edged lower following the data with NZD/USD around 0.7210 from 0.7220 ahead of the release.