Paymark’s figures confirm the unsurprising large drop in consumer spending during the two weeks of Level 4 Lockdown in New Zealand.
Payments processed by Paymark through merchants in the core retail sector were down 34 percent to $975 million in the 14 days ending 31 August 2021, versus the same 14 days in 2020. (NOTE: Payments through Pay-mark are largely through onsite payments but do include some e-commerce payments.)
The difference between the first and second half of the month shows up in a breakdown by sector for each of the two weeks. Spending at Food and liquor shops was up 14 percent on last year, down 20 percent at Pharmacies and on average was down 82 percent amongst the remaining Non-food retail stores. Within the hospitality sector, spending was 80 percent down amongst Accommodation providers and 93 percent below levels from a year ago across the Food and beverage service sector.
On the Tuesday before entering Level 4, shoppers stocked up on products, with spending through Food and Liquor shops rising 86 percent in comparison to the same day last year. Elsewhere, annual growth rates had been generally strong before Level 4, in part reflecting the Lockdown’s that had occurred in August last year as well. The spending change between August 2020 and August 2021 for Core Retail merchants was -12 percent.
August 2020 was generally spent in Level 2 except for when Auckland moved to Level 3 between the 12th and 30th of August 2020. A fuller measure of the effect of lockdowns is the comparison with 2019 spending levels, which show Core Retailers’ spending through Paymark during the recent Level 4 lockdown was down 39 percent on the same 14 days in 2019.
The regional pattern for the lockdown was similar, albeit not exactly the same during the 14 days. The annual decline was largest in Bay of Plenty (-46 percent), Marlborough (-46 percent), Nelson (-45 percent) and Otago (-44 percent). The decline was least in Auckland/Northland (-22 percent) but this reflects the tighter lockdown status of Auckland in 2020. Compared to 2019, the Auckland/Northland decline was -42 percent, near the national average.