Kiwis spending more as lockdown restrictions ease

Source: 1News

As restrictions for much of New Zealand ease under Level 2 spending is on the rise - but not all businesses are benefiting.

Card spending data analysed by Infometrics shows in the first week of Delta Level 2, there was a bump in spending apart from Auckland. It showed card spending is up 10 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

The biggest winner is home and recreation which saw a 24 per cent rise as Kiwis invested in hobbies like DIY projects after lockdown.

That’s certainly been the case for Page & Blackmore Booksellers in Nelson, who have seen a spike in sales with many Kiwis rediscovering their love of reading over lockdown.

Owner Jo Dippie was expecting it to be quiet without Aucklanders being able to travel but customers all over the South Island have made up for it.

“They've been terrific and they always come in and complain that they're purchasing more than they came in for," Dippie said.

A customer at Page & Blackmore Booksellers in Nelson.

Books weren’t an essential service during Level 4 which means the business is still making up financially for what it lost over the lockdown period.

Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen says the initial signs are good.

"So far we have seen a pretty strong bounce back - sort of to the same degree that we did last year," he said.

He says Auckland is dragging down the overall spending but that will change as our biggest city moves down alert levels.

"The feeling is that confidence is still there; it's spending that’s been delayed, not spending that’s been denied,” Olsen said.

Infometrics estimates that over the entire lockdown period, there’s been at least $1.2 billion in deferred or delayed spending - around half a billion in Auckland alone. 

But all businesses aren’t in the same boat with tourism, events and hospitality sectors still struggling.

The data shows throughout the whole country, hospitality was down 52 per cent on usual levels. Even in the regions at Delta Level 2, it’s still down 28 per cent, showing the impact those tighter restrictions have had.

While the likes of bars and restaurants can now have 100 people indoors, the hospitality sector is still struggling.

Ian Williams, who owns two restaurants in Nelson, says many people want to get out of the sector.

His businesses have lost around 40 to 60 per cent since going to Level 2.

"It's a wee bit like just moving the tables on the Titanic. As a business we're going down and that's the same for many businesses," he said.

Many businesses are eagerly awaiting for Level 1, where there aren’t restrictions on mass gatherings.

Isaac Theatre Royal CEO Bob Magan says they're desperate for a return to Level 1 "if not, [we're] looking at a per centage of capacity".

"If we were to be able to get to 50, 75 per cent we could operate at those levels."