12 Jul 2013

High dollar benefit for consumers questioned

5:52 pm on 12 July 2013

A think tank has questioned whether consumers have received the full benefit of cheaper foreign goods due to a high New Zealand dollar.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says the currency has declined in recent months, but remains strong by historical standards.

The New Zealand Initiative think-tank said import prices have not always fallen when the currency rises, and it can be cheaper to buy goods from overseas websites. The organisation said that indicates savings are not being passed on to consumers.

Briscoe Group runs the Rebel Sports, Briscoe Homeware and Living & Giving chains. Executive director Rod Duke said consumers have benefited from a high dollar, making electronic goods, furniture and whitewear cheaper.''Kiwis just love bargains."

Most analysts say the direction of the New Zealand dollar is dictated by the recovery of the American economy and the dollar may continue to decline slowly against other currencies in coming years as the effects of the global financial crisis wear off.

The Importers Institute says prices of imported goods are going to get more expensive, now that the dollar is dropping. Secretary Daniel Silva told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report the lower dollar is bad for retailers as they will be forced to put up prices and potentially drive consumers to online shopping.

More on the long-term consequences of a high New Zealand dollar on producers and consumers can be heard on Insight on the Sunday Morning programme with Chris Laidlaw