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NZ retail sales rise 1.5% in 3rd-qtr, led by supermarkets, groceries

New Zealand retail sales rose faster than expected in the third quarter, led by supermarkets and grocery stores, suggesting consumers haven't been deterred by rising borrowing costs. The kiwi dollar rose after the figures were released.

Retail sales volumes rose a seasonally adjusted 1.5 percent in the third quarter from three months earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Unadjusted sales rose 4.1 percent from a year earlier. A quarterly gain of 0.8 percent for an annual increase of 4 percent had been expected, according to a Reuters survey.

The figures comes after the release of the BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Services Index for October, which slipped 0.2 points to a still-healthy 57.8, above the average level for the year, although within the survey, retailing had a reading of 46 in the latest month, indicating contraction. The retail sales report showed 12 of the 15 store types measured showed sales volume growth in the latest three months. The New Zealand dollar climbed as high as 79.56 US cents from 79.22 cents immediately before the figures were released. The kiwi recently traded at 79.37 cents.

Food-related industries led the advance. Supermarket and grocery store sales rose 1.9 percent and food and beverage services gained 3 percent. Among other sectors, fuel retailing was up 2.5 percent, motor vehicle and parts gained 1.4 percent and furniture, floor coverings, housewares and textile good retailing rose 6.3 percent.

That was partly offset by a 5.4 percent decline for accommodation, a 1.9 percent decline for clothing, footwear and accessories and a 1.1 percent drop in non-store and commission-based retailing, the government statistician said.

Core retailing, which excludes vehicle-related industries, rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter, up from a 1.2 percent rise three months earlier.

The total value of retail sales rose 0.9 percent to $174 million in the third quarter, after a 1 percent gain in the second quarter.

The data release included a new seasonally adjusted vehicle-related series.