Shoppers still absent amid sluggish retail sales
Hamilton’s busy streets in the final week of Christmas shopping are not indicative of the true state of retail sales, with the latest official figures continuing the picture of a decisive softness in local retail spending since the summer of 2021.
Shopping remained restrained as retail sales figures continued their slide. September marked the fourth consecutive month of decline and the 13th out of the last 15 months, according to the government statistics.
Apparel stores continued with volumes substantially below the pre-pandemic September of 2019.
Government’s Retail Sales Index report says that after adjusting for the retail sales rate of inflation, measured at 6.2 per cent in September, the month’s volume of retail sales decreased 1.8 per cent compared to September last year, while retail sales in value terms increased to an estimated $97.5 million.
Compared to the pre-pandemic period of September 2019, volume sales were 0.6 per cent lower.
Three of the seven sectors recorded volume declines in September 2022.
The sales volume for food stores declined 10.2 per cent, while its sales value rose 1.3 per cent. The sales volume and value of liquor stores increased 3.5 per cent and 4.0 per cent, respectively.
Compared to the pre-pandemic sales volume in 2019, food stores registered a 12.7 per cent decrease, while sales for liquor stores were 0.5 per cent higher.
The sales volume of motor vehicle stores declined by 6.2 per cent due to a lower number of vehicles sold. The sales value for this sector fell 4.3 per cent. This sales level was 49.9 per cent above the sales volume in September 2019 prior to the pandemic.
In the ‘All Other Store Types’ sector (comprising stores selling household items, furniture, appliances, electronics, pharmaceuticals and tourist-related goods), there was a decrease in volume of 3.4 per cent as sales were lower for boat and marine supplies. The value of sales for this sector rose 5.6 per cent. Sales for this sector registered 2.0 per cent above the pre-pandemic sales volume for the same period of 2019.
The following sectors experienced increases in sales volume compared to the previous year.
The sales volume for service stations increased 6.8 per cent. The value of sales grew 12.6 per cent due largely to a 5.5 per cent rise in the price of fuel. Sales for this sector registered 8.4 per cent below the pre-pandemic sales volume in September 2019.
The sales volume and value for building material stores increased 10.2 per cent and 12.0 per cent, respectively. The sales volume for this sector was 11.4 per cent above the 2019 sales level.
The sales volume for apparel stores grew 12.0 per cent while sales value increased 14.8 per cent. This was due partially to increased inventory and foot traffic. However, the sales volume was 15.7 per cent below the pre-pandemic sales of 2019.
Even increases in overseas spending appear to have levelled off, still high compared to 2019, but about the same as 2021.
The report said: “Overseas declarations decreased 0.4 per cent compared to September 2021. Overseas declarations were 52.3 per cent higher when compared to the pre-pandemic period.”
Retail Sales Index September 2022 - See Related Media