The total volume of retail sales in New Zealand jumped a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2017, Statistics New Zealand said on Friday.
That topped expectations for a gain of 1.4 percent following the 0.2 percent increase in the three months prior.
Eleven of the 15 retail industries had higher sales volumes.
Food and beverage services had the largest increase, up 3.7 percent, following a 2.6 percent fall in the September 2017 quarter.
“Food and beverage services led this quarter’s retail increases,” retail trade manager Sue Chapman said. “But people were not just eating out, they also spent more on groceries in the December quarter.”
Motor-vehicles, and supermarket and grocery stores, both recorded solid increases for December, up 2.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Accommodation had the largest fall, down 2.3 percent. This decline in volume follows a record price rise in the December quarter, up 6.0 percent.
The total value of retail sales rose 1.9 percent (NZ$444 million) as 13 of the 15 retail industries had higher sales values.
Food and beverage services had the largest increase, up 4.1 percent (NZ$114 million). This rise follows a 1.8 percent (NZ$51 million) fall in the September 2017 quarter.
Supermarket and grocery stores recorded a second consecutive solid increase, up 1.5 percent (NZ$76 million) in December, following a 1.9 percent (NZ$93 million) rise in the September 2017 quarter.
Fuel retailing rose 3.8 percent (NZ$74 million) following a fall of 1.9 percent (NZ$38 million) in the September quarter. Prices (which are not seasonally adjusted) can fluctuate strongly in the fuel industry. The December 2017 quarter prices rose 6.0 percent, following a 1.5 percent fall in the September 2017 quarter.
Hardware, building, and garden supplies had the largest fall, down 0.8 percent (NZ$17 million). This modest decrease follows six years of consecutive increases.
Regions sales up in the North and South islands as 12 of the 16 regions recorded increases in the December 2017 quarter.
The values of sales in the North Island rose 0.8 percent (NZ$139 million) in the December 2017 quarter, after a 0.5 percent (NZ$85 million) rise in the September 2017 quarter.
The value of sales in the South Island rose 1.4 percent (NZ$78 million) in the December 2017 quarter, after a 1.0 percent (NZ$54 million) rise in the September 2017 quarter.
The largest rises were in the Canterbury region, up 1.7 percent (NZ$51 million), followed by Auckland, up 0.5 percent (NZ$44 million), Waikato, up 1.7 percent (NZ$35 million) and Bay of Plenty, up 1.7 percent (NZ$24 million).
Northland, Taranaki, West Coast, and Nelson regions all recorded falls of less than NZ$2 million in the December 2017 quarter.