March card spending rebounds despite COVID

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.

MonthActualSeasonally adjusted
Mar-1957544600005628056000
Apr-1954700020005668589000
May-1955200940005626881000
Jun-1952802750005627698000
Jul-1953593080005617388000
Aug-1954850070005687260000
Sep-1953455360005710732000
Oct-1957695640005697608000
Nov-1961712220005854027000
Dec-1972092060005847626000
Jan-2058914390005864927000
Feb-2056911400005890462000
Mar-2056514910005619582000
Apr-2028706080002956597000
May-2051882030005281297000
Jun-2057012300006113594000
Jul-2059689570006178639000
Aug-2054389970005716965000
Sep-2057344010006091454000
Oct-2062507220006081689000
Nov-2062560290006048350000
Dec-2074595260006003240000
Jan-2160056760005982894000
Feb-2153914440005831854000
Mar-2159373460005884429000

“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.”

MonthFood and beverage servicesAccommodation
Mar-19928857000259200000
Mar-20662446000162500000
Mar-21885251000155023000

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.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.