Otago growth slides to fourth

Otago has slipped down two places on the ASB Regional Economic Scoreboard as places at the top of the table changed.

Otago came in fourth equal with Marlborough in the March quarter, after being second in December.

Northland moved to the top position from seventh equal and Tasman went down one place to second. The Bay of Plenty was the big mover, jumping nine places to third.

ASB chief executive Nick Tuffley said Northland "owned the summer" of 2018, outperforming the rest of the country.

The key to the Northland region's success was the "solid five-star ratings" across all the measures - employment, construction, retail trade, house prices and new car sales.

Northland added a healthy 4.6% more jobs over the year and not surprisingly, the growth then spilled into the retail sector where annual sales grew at more than 5%.

"No doubt, the good summer weather contributed to the consumers in the area slip, slop, slapping and spending this summer and, in doing so, secured Northland top regional honours."

In Otago, the tourism boom was clearly continuing to make its mark in the region, he said.

Retail sales were up strongly, the region had the fastest growth in employment of any region and had above-average population growth to fill the jobs demand.

"House price growth throughout the region remains impressive as Dunedin City prices continued to outshine those of their flash lake cousins."

However, building consent issuance had nose dived, particularly for non-residential work, Mr Tuffley said.

The fall was a surprise given the people pressure going on to the Central Lakes area.

Car registrations had fallen slightly more than the national average.

In Southland, the region was feeling the benefit from the tourism boom with its double-digit annual growth in guest nights being fastest in New Zealand, he said.

The region moved up one place to eighth.

"Talk of traffic jams, regional fuel taxes and toll charging evidently haven't reached as far south as Invercargill, judging by chart-topping growth in car registrations."

Consumer confidence in the region had returned. Sustained good dairy prices were a positive given Southland's heavy dependence on dairy. Mycoplasma bovis could yet dampen confidence, Mr Tuffley said.

Flat employment and unwinding of a past surge in non-residential building consents were constraining the region's ranking.

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