New Zealand Retail Trade Strong in March Quarter

By Ben Collins Features Dow Jones Newswires

WELLINGTON, New Zealand--New Zealand's retail spending grew at a faster pace than expected in the first quarter of 2017, outpacing the previous quarter.

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The volume of retail sales increased 1.5% in the January-March period compared with the previous three months, Statistics New Zealand said Monday.

The median forecast in a Wall Street Journal poll was for a gain of 1.0%. The rise follows a gain of 0.6% in the fourth quarter last year.

Out of 15 retail industries, 11 had higher sales volumes in the quarter.

Car sales surged in the quarter, driving an increase in total retail trade sales, Stats NZ said.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the motor-vehicles industry had a record 5.9% increase in the first quarter, and accounted for over half the increase in total retail sales volume for the quarter.

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"Car sales have shown consistent growth over the past year, with higher sales of both new and used vehicles in a buoyant market," senior business indicators manager Neil Kelly said.

In overall value terms, retail sales gained 2.6% from the previous quarter, stronger than a 1.8% gain forecast by polled economists.

Write to Ben Collins at ben.collins@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2017 19:15 ET (23:15 GMT)