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Economic commentary & insight

The latest financial news and commentary from BNZ.

Tony Alexander has been the BNZ's chief economist for 20 years. He is a formative expert on economic development and prospects; and risks and opportunities. He regularly writes and publishes specialised commentaries that discuss developments in local and global economies and financial markets and report on the trends, aspects, and issues of the New Zealand economy.

Visit Tony Alexander's website

Weekly overview

Learn more about the housing market, interest rates, and foreign economies in Tony Alexander's weekly overview. This weekly publication is designed to help Kiwi businesspeople and householders make informed financial decisions. Read the latest weekly overview – or catch up on last week's.

Read the latest weekly overview

Confidence survey

Will the economy will get better, worse or stay the same over the next 12 months? Each month, our Chief Economist, Tony Alexander, asks this question to subscribers of his weekly overview. Read Tony's summary of their responses in the latest Confidence Survey – or download a past issue.

Read this month's confidence survey

Online retail sales index

Online purchases at domestic sites 6% higher than February 2013

  • While 6% is an ok growth rate, and double the growth rate calculated using Statistics NZ figures for electronic card transactions (using broadly comparable industries1), it is a lot softer than the 15% annual growth rate we saw in January.
  • If we look at month-to-month growth, the normal seasonal pattern over the past 4 years has been a 5% or 6% increase in online purchases at domestic merchants as we move from January to February. But this year we saw a 3% fall. However, monthly data can be quite variable and care is needed in interpretation. The softness we are seeing in February might be symptomatic of the strong sales growth in January and December.

Online purchases at offshore merchants 21% higher than February 2013

  • Online spending by New Zealanders at offshore retailers powers further ahead. 42% of NZ online retail purchases in February were from international merchants.

Growth rates across categories mixed

  • Strong growth in entertainment media sales, at both domestic and international merchants.
  • At domestic merchants, online sales in February were also up strongly for Supermarket & Groceries, Other Specialised Food, Department Stores, and Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics. Domestic online sales of Clothing, Liquor, Electrical Appliances, and sales at specialist Daily Sales sites, were all softer than in February last year.
  • International merchants enjoyed strong double-digit annual growth rates across most major categories.
  1. Using Statistics NZ data we calculate that the value of electronic card transactions for "core retail" industries excluding hospitality was up 3.1% on February 2013. These transactions mostly relate to physical stores, but do include an element of domestic online spending.

Read the full BNZ Online Retail Sales Index report PDF 343KB

Retailer news

EFTPOS Terminal Security

It is important that merchants have heightened awareness and know what to do if they suspect their device has been stolen or compromised. Terminal tampering or skimming is the unauthorised capture of payment information. The most common approach is for fraudsters to steal a device and replace it with a compromised device which has skimming technology installed. In most cases, the fraudsters are after the information on a magnetic strip and the corresponding PIN to counterfeit cards. The fraudsters may return to collect the device or use bluetooth technology to send the data. Counterfeit spend is then often committed internationally to make purchases or withdraw cash.

Read the latest Retailer News PDF 40KB April 2014