Positive news for New Zealand’s retail industry, as the latest Retail NZ Sales Index report shows strong spending through October and total spending since March now slightly running ahead of last year.
Retail NZ chief executive, Greg Harford, says that the sector was significantly impacted during the March to May national lockdown, and the second lockdown in August, however overall spending since March is in fact running 0.3 percent ahead of total spending for the same March to October period last year.
“Overall retail sales in October were 20.7 percent higher than last year. This reflects the fact that consumers have money in their pockets, supported by low-interest rates and an increase in house prices, and that New Zealanders are still unable to travel overseas because of Covid-19.
“The results are not shared equally across the retail sector, however. Previous Retail NZ research suggests that, while some retailers are performing extremely well, a minority is selling substantially less than last year. These are likely to be businesses particularly exposed to the inbound tourist market, or those which do not have a strong online presence,” says Harford.
Although retail sales are catching up, it is the run-up to Christmas that poses a threat. Many retailers are experiencing stock shortages, stemming from supply chain delays, as well as congestion at the Ports of Auckland and Tauranga. Harford says stock is taking substantially longer to arrive from overseas suppliers and retailers need to order much earlier.
“There is also a concern in the retail community that a re-emergence of Covid-19 might lead to further lockdowns. These have the potential to be catastrophic in the short-term, particularly in the absence of strong Government support.
“Retail NZ recommends that customers shop early for Christmas, and to shop local from businesses and e-commerce sites that are helping keep Kiwis employed and local communities vibrant.”