Paymark has reported some interesting results for electronic card sales over March.
In their news story they say the food and liquor are doing well relative to March last year, travel looks soft, and if we adjust for the funky timing of Easter (last year it was in March, this year it is back to its normal April) sales are down a bit.
Now, I remember last March – and I remember Stats NZ said that it wasn’t going to adjust for Easter because, when it comes to retail sales, it isn’t clear what the impact is.
Using my poor memory and a touch of logic, I recall the timing of Easter boosting the sales of specialty foods and tourist related activities – as people were coming around to hang out with family and celebrate Easter in a different month then usual. In net terms this lead to a movement of these types of sales from April to March. The place where retail sales did struggle was motor vehicles and the such – however, these aren’t the sort of purchases that turn up in the electronic card numbers.
As a result, today’s figures maybe don’t show such a weak story – maybe tourist spending isn’t quite as bad as they are saying, and maybe food spending is very robust. I wouldn’t be surprised if liquor spending is strong – as it can be relatively counter-cyclical. However, it isn’t clear that they should be revising the figures down on the basis of Easter …