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A review of the things you need to know before you go home on Wednesday; online retailing strong; mortgage approvals softer

Posted in News
For Wednesday, January 15, 2014. Image sourced from

Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today.

Food prices fell 0.1% for the month of December 2013, but were up 1.53% for the year as a whole. Fruit and Vegetables continued to decline (down 2.2% for the year) however the main contributors to the rising prices were Non-alcoholic beverages, Grocery foods and Restaurant meals.

This official data has grocery prices up 2.0% over the year, whereas our shopping basket has them up a tiny 40c or 0.02%. The difference is that we account for specials and home brands; StatsNZ does not. It is still an urban myth to say grocery prices are rising significantly.

The Co-operative Bank has raised its one year mortgage rate to 5.29% from 5.19%. They also raised their TD rates for term of 2 to 4 years by between 20 and 25 bps.

ASB and BNZ have also recently raised term PIE rates.

Despite our very strong currency and the relatively weak crude oil prices, local petrol prices are holding at about $2.18 per litre for 91 unleaded, according to the latest MED monitoring. They are almost 6% higher this year (or +7.9c / litre) than at the same time last year. This is despite the crude oil price in NZ$ being virtually identical over the same period. Rising taxes made up +3.7c per litre of the difference at the pump price. Oil company 'components' accounted for +4.2c per litre of the increase (where pump price, less crude oil, less taxes = the oil company component which involves refining and distribution.)

Mortgage approval levels were out today and they came in quite a bit softer than they were before the holiday break. They are usually down after Christmas but these were lower even accounting for the season. The new LVR restrictions may be starting to bite as the pre-approvals are worked through. But to be fair, it is still too early to be definitive.

Swap rates flattened again today.

The exchange rate fell back as the day progressed.

The gold price fell in London and New York today, both in US dollars and NZ dollars. In case you didn't know, we have a daily review and update of precious metals, including the scrap price for gold here. Our weekly Precious Metals email is also a good way to keep up with the latest price changes. (We track semi-precious metals daily as well - copper and aluminium - and these are on a steady downward trend.)

Silver Fern Farms announced a new push to sell its produts 'direct and online' in Shanghai, and use a local TV shopping channel to promote the range.

The December online retail sales index published by BNZ was out today. That showed that sales to domestic online retailers accounted for 61.1% of all NZ online shopping in December. But it was the international retailers who saw the fastest growth from kiwi online shoppers - they were up some 24% from the same month a year ago, whereas local online retailers saw a 9% rise on a comparable basis. Shopping on Christmas Day and Boxing Day was up even slightly more, but local online retailers gained a better share.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Lets face it , Kiwi firms are

Lets face it , Kiwi firms are quite adroit .
Silver Fern Farms are likely  feeling the pinch of the strong Kiwi$ vs the Aussie$ , hence the Shanghai plan .
I am actually really impressed how quickly Kiwi Companies are able to adapt to changing conditions , it shows flexibility and sound management .
They have a plan in place to ameliorate the effects of the exchange rate.

Dear David, do you monitor

Dear David, do you monitor the quantity of packaged food changing? With that I mean the price staying maybe the same but the contents shrinking mysteriously and in such small steps that you have to be really vigilant to notice. Do you really account accurately for such stealthy inflation? Because I sure have noticed that form of inflation, particularly over the last 3-4 years. But then over half of your list would not normally show up in my basket...
One suggestion I would make though, since you are not likely to stop your somewhat misleading series. Add flour and one or two flour subsidies, sugar a few more fresh vegetable varieties and toiletries and cleaning items. That way you water down the effect of shopping for loss leaders and generally get a little closer to reality.

While I'll agree on the

While I'll agree on the weights getting less, eg Doritos recently went from 200g to 175g, I'll add that also the quality of the ingredients is dropping.  Things to watch out for are "improved taste" and "new recipe"  catch words for its now crappier).
Fresh veg is seasonally effected, hence not a good one to bias with besides which its dropping.  Capsicums seem consistantly lower these days for instance, $7 a kilo, Ive not seen them at $13 for a long time, ditto tomatoes.   The rest I have not personally seen significant increases, in fact Ive noticed few increases, but there have been decreases in some things. Also meat seems no more expensive to me than a few years ago, fish though definately seems to be more expensive and of cheaper cuts/old or not available.

Yes, we control for pack

Yes, we control for pack weights and volumes. We don't allow 'downsizing'. Agree there is no raw 'flour' or 'sugar' but there are bread products in our 'healthy eating' list, and plenty that contain sugar.
btw, StatsNZ also control for pack size and volume.
You are welcome to track your own shopping list and report it here. Declare the components. It is fairly straightforward to do using online tools, but the trick is to monitor is every week. That would make your claims more credible.
Also note that we use Countdown in NZ and Woolworths in AU for this review. In fact there are lower cost alternatives, so perhaps we are reporting costs that are too high?

Thanks for the

Thanks for the clarification(s).

What about the use of cheaper

What about the use of cheaper ingredients?

The Beijing Bubble … Jim

The Beijing Bubble … Jim Impoco … Newsweek
The Beijing Bubble ... Jim Impoco ... Newsweek
Hugh Pavletich