Statistics New Zealand is to introduce a new survey asking businesses what IT goods and services they buy and how much they spend on them.
The results will be integrated with other economic statistics to see if there is any correlation between use of IT and improved financial performance.
Statistics New Zealand is developing the survey with funding from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. Until now the only comparable statistics have come from an annual survey on the production of IT goods and services in this country and from import figures.
Ian Ewing, deputy government statistician, says the aim of the new survey is to find out how widely used IT is within the business sector and what businesses do with IT.
"For example, do they use it for data processing, e-commerce, business decision making? We've all heard that soon no business will be without e-commerce, the new survey will help reveal whether this is the case." Ewing expects the survey will take place later this year.
Meanwhile, on the consumer side, Statistics New Zealand will start asking house holders whether they buy goods over the Internet.
The household economics survey, which covers all household expenditure in New Zealand, runs every three years and will next take place in July. This year it will include questions on whether people are acquiring goods and services over the Internet, the sorts of goods and services they buy this way and how often.
Ewing says monthly retail figures also now include online sales along with brick and mortar sales but do not break them out from normal retail transactions.
The monthly retail trade figures covers New Zealand retail to local households and includes goods sold by New Zealand retailers over the Internet to local households. This includes New Zealand retailers that are totally Web-based. To ascertain balance of payments figures Statistics New Zealand, with help from Customers, also monitors goods coming into New Zealand, including those ordered online from overseas retailers such as amazon.com. However, to date, goods and services purchased by New Zealand householders directly from overseas is tiny and doesn't warrant a breakout, says Ewing.
"As we get evidence that it is growing we will have to consider adding explicit questions on whether they are buying online. As yet, talking to Customs, there isn't enough evidence that significant amounts are coming into this country as a result of online purchases from overseas. Even including purchases from mail catalogues and phone sales, goods and services purchased directly from overseas represent less than 0.5% of all imports."