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Statistics NZ delays retail trade release

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/11/2016 Paul McBeth

Statistics New Zealand will put off Tuesday's scheduled release of the September quarter retail trade survey and provide a new schedule of upcoming releases after last night's 7.5 magnitude earthquake damaged its Wellington base to the extent that it could be up to a year before it can be reoccupied.

The government statistics agency's office on Wellington's Harbour Quays was closed to its 500 or so staff on Monday as engineers inspected the building, and Statistics NZ has been told it will be up to 12 months before they will be allowed back in, it said in a statement.

The agency was due to release the retail trade survey tomorrow but has put that off until further notice, and the current calendar is under review.

"Statistics NZ has been told by engineers that it will be several months, up to a year, before it can be reoccupied," a spokesman said in an emailed statement."We are reviewing the current calendar of statistics releases and will update people when we have certainty about a new schedule."

The agency faced similar woes in 2011 when the Canterbury earthquakes severely damaged its Christchurch office and delayed the release of top-tier data. Bank of New Zealand's Wellington office also suffered damage, and the lender said it was working with its landlord to figure out how bad it was.

Statistics NZ's Wellington office is owned by CentrePort, which suspended operations until further notice after the quake damaged buildings on the port and caused liquefaction in places.

The government department said its Auckland and Christchurch offices are still open, though its website, and public data sources - Infoshare and nzdotstat - are out of action.

The agency will provide an update when it has certainty about a new data schedule.

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