Retail Trade Survey Quarterly - Current

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The Retail Trade Survey measures the sales turnover and stock levels of a wide range of businesses that provide household and personal goods and services. Retailers include car yards, petrol stations, supermarkets, department stores, hardware retailers, cafes and restaurants, hotels and motels, and other store-based and non-store-based retailers. Retail Trade Survey statistics are published quarterly for the following variables: sales value of goods and services, by industry, and region; sales volume, by industry; value of stock held, by industry.


The purpose of the survey is to provide short-term economic indicators of the retail trade sector. In addition, the data is used for compiling the retail trade sector component of the quarterly national accounts (on the production side) and in compiling household consumption expenditure (on the expenditure side). Results from the survey provide a valuable guide to retail trading and general economic conditions within New Zealand

Citation Information


Retail Trade Survey Quarterly - Current

Alternate Title



Business Indicators


Statistics New Zealand


Statistics New Zealand

Coverage Information

Temporal Coverage

  • 2011-03 to present

Topical Coverage

  • Business statistics
  • Business and agricultural surveys
  • Macroeconomic statistics
  • Economic accounts
  • Sales value
  • Sales Volumes
  • Stock value
  • Regional Sales Values
  • Retail
  • Household consumption
  • Prices
  • Supermarket and grocery
  • Specialised food
  • Liquor
  • Non-store and commision-based retailing
  • Furniture, floor coverings, houseware, textiles
  • Electrical and Electronic goods
  • Hardware, building and garden supplies
  • Recreational goods
  • Department store
  • Pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing
  • Accommodation
  • Food and Beverage services
  • Motor-vehicles and parts
  • Fuel
  • Clothing, footwear and accessories



Information paper


3) Quarterly

Significant events impacting this study series

June 2015 – On the 30 October 2015 we released eight new percentage change series in the Retail Trade Survey. These include percentage change for the total and core retailing sales, in current and deflated prices, (Qtrly-Mar/Jun/Sep/Dec). Four of the series includes actual percentage change from the same period of previous year, while the remaining four series include seasonal adjusted percent change from the previous period which are recalculated each quarter.

September 2014 - upgraded the seasonal adjustment package for the retail trade series from X-12-ARIMA to X-13-ARIMA-SEATS, to comply with international best practice. Seasonal adjustment aims to eliminate the impact of regular seasonal events (such as annual cycles in agricultural production, winter, or annual holidays) on time series. This makes the data for adjacent quarters more comparable. We revise all seasonally adjusted figures each quarter. This enables the seasonal component to be better estimated and removed from the series.

March 2012 - Data was revised for the March 2012 Quarter Statistics New Zealand has revised the release for Retail Trade Survey March 2012 quarter, first published on 14 May 2012. The previously produced time series estimates up to the December 2011 quarter, for supermarkets and grocery stores, core retail, and total retail, have been subject to revision. The revised release can be found at Retail Trade Survey March 2012 quarter. Following the release of retail trade statistics for the March 2012 quarter, a number of economic commentators queried the extent of the sales volumes decline in the supermarket and grocery stores. Statistics New Zealand holds itself to the highest standards and considered we had an obligation to further investigate the figures. Additional information and investigation allowed us to determine we had an anomalous result, which did not reflect the economic reality and therefore needed to be revised.

December 2010 - The change from a monthly to a quarterly collection meant there was a slight difference in the way the survey population is measured. Instead of the survey population being reviewed and adjusted every month, this is now done at the end of the quarter. Analysis has been done on the effect of this change to the survey population, which was found to be minimal. Therefore, no adjustment has been made to the survey to account for the slight variation in population between three monthly collections and one quarterly. No changes were made to the previously published actual quarterly retail data. Monthly retail trade data is not available after December 2010.

June 2010 - The Retail Trade Survey was updated to use a new version of the industrial classification from the June 2010 quarter. The industrial classification used by the Retail Trade Survey was updated to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC06) from the June 2010 quarter. Before this, a 1996 version of the classification had been used. This was done to reflect changes that have occurred in the structure and composition of industries since the previous version of the classification (ANZSIC96) was developed. As part of this update the number of published retail industries has reduced from 24 to 15. An analytical back series has been produced, to retain comparability over time, and is available from 1995 for sales and stocks by industry, and from 2003 for regional sales, and sales volumes by industry. The Retail Trade Survey (RTS) backcast series was produced using two methods. The most recent portion of data (from August 2003 to March 2010) was calculated by re-weighting unit record data collected under the ANZSIC96 Retail Trade and Wholesale Trade Surveys. This method provides a relatively robust estimate of the historic time series. Unit record data is not available before August 2003, so the earliest portion of the backcast series (from 1995 to 2003) was estimated using a proportional method. The backcast sales volume series were calculated by splitting the ANZSIC06 data into its ANZSIC96 components, and deflating these by applying either ANZSIC96 retail trade deflators, or relevant CPI or PPI indexes. The resulting deflated subsets were then added together into their ANZSIC06 industries. Scaling factors were applied to the backcast data to remove any discontinuity in level.

September 2003 – The survey was redesigned for the September 2003 quarter. For more details about the redesign see:

Retail Trade Survey – Redesign: September 2003

Retail Trade Survey – Implementation of new survey design.

Usage and limitations of the data

The objective of the Retail Trade survey is to provide timely, short term, key indicator statistics on the retail sector of the economy. This provides a useful short term indicator for economic analysts and policy makers.

Retail sales are used in forecasting consumer demand, economic growth, inflation, interest rates, imports, the balance of payments and the exchange rate and are used in formulating government policy and Reserve Bank monetary policy. Retail sales are also used in comparison with business and regional sales by external users.

The main limitations of the Retail Trade data are the unavailability of a commodity breakdown, and sample error and confidentiality concerns with detailed data release. Sales are classified by industry and specific sales by commodity are not available. Sample errors and confidentiality may limit the availability of the data at detailed levels of ANZSIC and by region below Regional Council Areas.

Main users of the data

EXTERNAL: The Treasury, Reserve Bank, retail and wholesale merchants associations, businesses, regional councils, news media, economic agencies (NZIER, Berl, trading banks). INTERNAL: National Accounts Division, Marketing and Sales division, Customer services division.

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