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Retail Trade Survey: May 2008
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 July 2008
Commentary

All references to sales movements are to seasonally adjusted series unless otherwise stated.

May 2008

Total retail sales fell 1.2 percent ($69 million) in May 2008, following a 1.2 percent rise ($64 million) in April 2008. This was the largest percentage decrease recorded since February 2004, when sales fell 1.9 percent. However, core retail sales (which excludes the vehicle-related industries) rose 0.7 percent ($27 million) in May 2008.

The decrease in total sales was led by motor vehicle retailing (which due to its large size and volatility can strongly influence the total sales movement), down 14.8 percent ($102 million) in May 2008. Furniture and floor coverings followed with a fall of 15.6 percent ($21 million).

Supermarket and grocery stores increased 3.0 percent ($35 million) in May 2008 after having decreased 3.5 percent ($42 million) in April 2008. This was the largest increase among the industries this month, followed by automotive fuel retailing, up 3.2 percent ($19 million).

Fourteen of the 24 industries had modest sales movements, not increasing or decreasing more than $3 million.

Graph, Retail Industry Contributions to the Change in Seasonally Adjusted Sales.

Sales trend

The total retail sales trend, which had been rising since May 1998 at an average rate of 0.5 percent per month, has flattened since December 2007.

The core retail sales trend, which had increased 0.4 percent on average per month since the beginning of the series in May 1995, has eased in the past year. 

Graph, Monthly Retail Sales.

Motor vehicle retailing

Motor vehicle retailing fell 14.8 percent ($102 million) in May 2008. This followed a rise of 8.5 percent in April 2008 and a fall of 4.6 percent in both February and March 2008.

The motor vehicle industry has a strong influence on the total sales movement due to its large size and volatility.

The sales trend for motor vehicle retailing has fallen 11.6 percent since September 2007, following an increase of 9.7 percent between July 2006 and September 2007. 

Graph, Motor Vehicle Retailing Sales.

Furniture and floor coverings

Furniture and floor coverings fell 15.6 percent ($21 million) in May 2008 after rising 8.4 percent ($11 million) in April 2008.

Since August 2007, the sales trend has fallen 8.9 percent, following an increase of 12.6 percent between April 2006 and August 2007. 

Graph, Furniture and Floor Covering Sales.

Automotive fuel retailing

Automotive fuel retailing increased 3.2 percent ($19 million) in May 2008 after falling 1.9 percent in April 2008.

Fuel prices had increased in the month of May 2008.

While the sales trend rose at an average of 2.6 percent per month between October 2007 and February 2008, it has flattened since then.

Graph, Automotive Fuel Retailing Sales.

Regional estimates

Of the six regions, four recorded sales decreases in May 2008.

Canterbury had the largest fall, down 3.5 percent ($26 million). In April 2008, this region had had the largest increase among the regions, up 6.8 percent ($46 million). The sales trend for Canterbury has been flat since November 2007.

Sales also fell in Auckland, down 1.4 percent ($24 million); the Waikato, down 2.8 percent ($14 million); and Wellington, down 0.9 percent ($6 million).

The North Island has fallen an average of 0.3 percent per month since December 2007. This was preceded by an average rise of 0.4 percent per month between July and December 2007. The trend for the South Island has flattened to an average rise of 0.1 percent per month in recent months.

Graph, Indexed Retail Sales Trend by Georraphical Region.

Note: The trend series in the graph above have been indexed to a base: March 2004 (=1000) for the purpose of comparing regional trends over four years.

Revisions

There were no revisions to the Retail Trade Survey in the May 2008 month.

Comparison statistics

For May 2008 compared with April 2008:

  • The Food Price Index rose 1.0 percent.
  • New registrations of cars and station wagons (including cars previously registered overseas) fell 1.9 percent.
  • Seasonally adjusted short-term overseas visitor arrivals rose 9.4 percent.
  • The seasonally adjusted value of the retail Electronic Card Transaction (ECT) series rose 1.2 percent, and the seasonally adjusted value of the core retail ECT series rose 1.5 percent.

Long-term comparison:

  • Credit card billings in New Zealand (including spending using New Zealand and overseas-issued cards) were up 0.8 percent compared with May 2007.

Other:

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's Official Cash Rate remained at 8.25 percent throughout May 2008.

Measurement errors

All statistical estimates are subject to measurement errors. These include both sample errors and non-sample errors. In addition, the survey applies imputation methodologies to cope with small firms and non-response. These measurement errors should be considered when analysing the results from the survey. For more information on measurement errors, please refer to the technical notes of this release.

Sample errors

The postal survey was designed to give statistics at the following levels of accuracy (at the 95 percent confidence interval limit):

  • 2 percent for sales at the total national retail trade level
  • 10 percent for sales at the published national retail industry level.

This means, for example, that there is a 95 percent chance that the true value of total retail trade sales lies within 2 percent of the published estimate.

At the industry level, the following sample errors occurred in the May 2008 month (at the 95 percent confidence interval limit):

Retail Trade Survey: May 2008 Month Sample Errors by Industry
At the 95 percent confidence interval limit
Retail industry Level
(relative percent)
Movement
(absolute percent)
Supermarket and grocery stores 5.1 0.1
Fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables 7.3 3.1
Liquor retailing 8.8 2.1
Other food retailing 10.5 6.9
Takeaway food retailing 5.7 2.9
Department stores 0.0 0.0
Furniture and floor coverings 8.4 5.4
Hardware 6.6 1.9
Appliance retailing 7.9 2.5
Recreational goods 7.1 4.6
Clothing and softgoods 4.6 5.2
Footwear 9.6 1.6
Chemist 5.8 2.1
Household equipment repair services 14.4 3.8
Other retailing 8.3 6.9
Motor vehicle retailing 7.3 4.4
Automotive fuel retailing 4.4 0.6
Automotive electrical services, smash repairing, tyre retailing 6.4 4.5
Automotive repair and services nec 8.2 5.9
Accommodation 4.8 2.4
Bars and clubs 9.4 5.2
Cafes and restaurants 6.1 3.2
Personal and household goods hiring 11.6 2.7
Other personal services 5.8 2.3
Total retail trade 1.7 1.6
Note: nec = not elsewhere classified
 
 
 
Retail Trade Survey: May 2008 Month Sample Errors by Region
At the 95 percent confidence interval limit
Region Level
(relative percent)
Movement
(absolute percent)
Auckland 3.4 1.5
Waikato 8.5 2.7
Wellington 9.5 1.8
Remainder of the North Island 6.4 2.1
Canterbury 6.5 3.6
Remainder of the South Island 7.1 2.4
 
Industries with zero sample error are full-coverage industries. In these industries, all large firms are surveyed and all small to medium-sized firms are modelled using administrative data sourced from Inland Revenue.

Imputation

Small firms

Small to medium-sized firms are generally not surveyed. Their variables are instead modelled from administrative data (GST) sourced from Inland Revenue. Ratios calculated from the postal sample units are applied to the administrative data to provide an estimate of their variables.

Non-response imputation

Although every attempt is made to achieve a 100 percent response rate, in practice this does not occur. Values for non-responding businesses are estimated by a number of methods, including:

  • regression imputation
  • historic imputation
  • mean imputation.

Regression imputation involves estimating sales from the unit's administrative data (GST sales) based on the relationship shown by similar businesses. Historic imputation involves multiplying their response in the previous period by a non-response factor. The non-response factor is the average movement of similar businesses over the month. Mean imputation involves estimating a value for a unit by using the average value for a set of similar businesses.

Postal response rate

The response rate describes the proportion of geographic units that provided survey responses. Note that the calculation of this response rate relates only to data for the postal sample. The Retail Trade Survey has a target response rate of 85 percent. The response rate achieved for the May 2008 survey was 93 percent.

The table below indicates the percentage of sales imputed in the May 2008 month:

 Sales Imputed in the May 2008 Month
Retail industry Tax modelled Non-response
  Percentage of sales
Supermarket and grocery stores  6.4 2.4
Fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables  9.2 14.2
Liquor retailing  11.8 13.8
Other food retailing  12.1 10.6
Takeaway food retailing  8.5 13.9
Department stores  0.0 0.0
Furniture and floor coverings  10.4 9.2
Hardware  6.2 3.6
Appliance retailing  8.1 2.1
Recreational goods  10.3 12.7
Clothing and softgoods  10.1 5.2
Footwear  8.3 6.1
Chemist  5.5 9.0
Household equipment repair services  10.9 7.7
Other retailing  12.2 10.6
Motor vehicle retailing  9.6 4.8
Automotive fuel retailing  3.6 2.3
Automotive electrical services, smash repairing, tyre retailing  10.6 10.1
Automotive repair and services, nec  12.8 14.2
Accommodation  10.3 15.2
Bars and clubs 11.3 11.3
Cafes and restaurants 10.8 13.3
Personal and household goods hiring 11.4 12.8
Other personal services 15.6 13.9
Total retail trade 8.0 6.5
Note: nec = not elsewhere classified

For technical information contact:
Jason Fullen or Anita Kumar
Christchurch 03 964 8700
Email: info@stats.govt.nz  

Next release ...

Retail Trade Survey: June 2008 quarter will be released on 15 August 2008.

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