NZ’s total online retail spending in December (excluding GST) was 5% higher than a year ago.

  • Spending at local online stores (excl GST) was up 13% on December last year. Food and Electrical categories were very strong.
  • Spending at offshore sites (excl GST) was down 9% on last December. The timing of the large drop in spending at overseas sites coincides with the widening of GST on offshore online purchases from 1 Dec.
  • Prima facie, at least part of the 9% year-on-year fall looks like it reflects changes in purchasing behaviour in response to the GST change. But at this stage we wouldn’t ascribe the whole fall to the effects of GST on purchase decisions. Retail sales can be volatile from month to month; and factors such as exchange rate movements also influence spending patterns. Furthermore, in November purchases from offshore sites were already running at a level 4% lower than the prior year.
  • Spending on Entertainment Media at offshore sites bucked the trend and continued its strong run in December– up 14% year on-year. This category includes digital goods, which had already been attracting GST (since October 2016).

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