There was a lift in retail card spending in March following a fall in the lockdown-disrupted February month, Stats NZ said today.
Seasonally adjusted retail card spending rose by $53 million (0.9 percent), compared with February 2021.
“Despite spending constraints for the first week of March due to Auckland’s return to alert level 3 lockdown, card sales rebounded from a lacklustre February,” retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.
Seasonally adjusted card spending rose in four of the six retail industries in March 2021, with higher sales of long-lasting goods such as furniture, hardware, and appliances (durables), up $29 million (1.8 percent).
Spending on the grocery and liquor (consumables) industry had the largest fall, down $74 million (3.3 percent) from February 2021.
“Recent monthly falls in the consumables sector reflect the softer growth in this industry following the much higher spending levels seen since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020,” Ms Hicks said.
Across all industries, the non-retail industries (travel agencies, health and pharmaceuticals, wholesaling, and other industries) had the largest rise, up $86 million (5.7 percent) from February 2021.
Medical services spending rebounds from March 2020
In actual terms, spending for medical and other health services (a sub-industry of non-retail) rose $85 million (44 percent) in March 2021 compared with March 2020.
“From 25 March 2020, the entire country went into alert level 4 lockdown, with many doctors’ appointments and non-emergency health services being postponed or cancelled,” Ms Hicks said.
“In March this year these services were considerably less restricted, allowing much higher sales to be seen in the month.”
Hospitality enduring despite COVID-19 hardships
In actual terms, the hospitality industry rose $215 million (26 percent) from March 2020. This was primarily driven by the rise in the food and beverage sub-industry, up $223 million (34 percent), while the accommodation sub-industry fell $7 million (4.6 percent) over the same period.
“The food and beverage businesses have survived hardship over the year and managed to see spending increase this March to values seen pre-COVID,” Ms Hicks said.
“On the other hand, accommodation businesses are still suffering from the lack of international tourism.”
|Month||Food and beverage services||Accommodation|
March quarterly sales fall
Seasonally adjusted total retail card spending was $17 billion in the March 2021 quarter, down $330 million (1.9 percent) from the December 2020 quarter.
“With New Zealand moving up COVID alert levels several times over the quarter, card spending was inevitably affected with all but the long-lasting durables industry sales falling from the December quarter,” Ms Hicks said.
Year-on-year, retail card spending was $17 billion in the March 2021 quarter, increasing $100 million (0.6 percent) from the March 2020 quarter.