14 May 2012

Sharp fall in retail sales after Rugby World Cup

1:39 pm on 14 May 2012

Retail sales have slumped following the 2011 Rugby World Cup, official figures show.

Statistics New Zealand says sales fell 1.5% in the March quarter. Once vehicles, fuel and parts are excluded, sales fell 2.5% - the most of any quarter since at least 1995.

The falls were most keenly felt in supermarkets, department stores and in spending on accommodation.

Spending in supermarkets was down 7%, accommodation 5% and department stores nearly 2%.

The falls reflect retailers coming back down to earth after the Rugby World Cup.

Supermarkets, accommodation and department stores all posted healthy gains during the New Zealand hosted tournament.

Westpac markets economist Michael Gordon says the fall had been largely expected, as the sales boost during the Rugby World Cup ebbed away.

"It's a reasonably positive message when you try to strip out the World Cup effect. We saw a little bit of acceleration of spending by Kiwis - nothing dramatic, but certainly an improvement on, say, this time a year ago."

On an annual basis, retail spending rose 4.4% compared with almost 8% in the previous March quarter.

There are also signs that retailing rebounded in April. Spending using electronic cards, which account for 60% of all retail sales, rose 0.6% in April, following falls in February and March.