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Post-lockdown Retail Card Spending Picks Up


The rise in retail card spending was boosted by sales of furniture, hardware, and appliances, Stats NZ said today.

“For a third consecutive month, card spending on the long-lasting goods (durables) remained at higher levels than last year, after falling sharply during April’s COVID-19 lockdown when stores were shut,” retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.

In actual terms, spending on durables had the largest retail industry increase, up $259 million (20 percent) compared with July 2019.

Total retail spending

Retail spending using electronic cards reached $6.0 billion in July 2020, up $610 million (11 percent) from July 2019.

“Continued card spending in July coincides with New Zealand being in alert level 1 for a full month, with few restrictions compared with level 4 lockdown in April,” Ms Hicks said.

Card spending rose for all but one of the six retail industries, with consumers spending more on groceries, clothing, hospitality, and cars (excluding fuel) than in July 2019.

Growth in groceries

The second highest spending increase was in supermarkets, specialised foods, and liquor stores (consumables industry), up $245 million (12 percent) compared with July 2019.

“Kiwis are continuing to spend up on groceries and beverage-related supplies following another month of loosened restrictions,” Ms Hicks said.

Hospitality looking up

Lower-level card spending, released to show the impacts of COVID-19, shows that the rise in hospitality was driven by the food and beverage services, up $92 million (11 percent) from July 2019.

“While accommodation spending remains low, New Zealanders’ increased spending on eating out throughout the July month has boosted the hospitality industry,” Ms Hicks said.

“Accommodation spending saw a small rise over the month, coinciding with the July school holidays, where Kiwis had the freedom to travel domestically but were still unable to travel overseas,” Ms Hicks said.

In actual terms, accommodation spending was down $30 million (16 percent) compared with July 2019, reflecting the lack of international visitors.

Electronic card transactions: July 2020

has more information on this lower-level card spending.

At the combined hospitality industry level, retail card spending rebounded this July, up $62 million (5.9 percent) compared with July 2019. This is the largest dollar value in hospitality for a July month since the series began.

The hospitality industry includes restaurants, cafes, bars, and takeaways (food and beverage services) and hotels, motels, and holiday parks (accommodation).

Fuel sales down in July

Fuel was the only retail industry that experienced a fall in July, down $44 million (7.9 percent) from July 2019.

COVID-19 data portal

shows weekly traffic counts were recovering in July.

“The lower fuel sales may partially reflect a lower price at the pump compared with the same time last year,” Ms Hicks said.

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