Seasonally adjusted retail card spending rose to $6.1 billion this April, the highest it has been this year, Stats NZ said today.
Spending was up $234 million (4 percent) compared with March 2021.
Spending was up across all the core retail industries, apart from the motor vehicles industry. This industry was down $0.4 million (0.2 percent) compared with March 2021. The fuel and apparel industries saw the largest increases in spending. Both were up $26 million compared with March 2021, rising five percent and eight percent respectively.
“With New Zealand moving up and down alert levels several times in February and March, there is likely to have been pent-up demand resulting in higher spending in April,” business statistics manager Geraldine Duoba said.
“In particular, with cooler weather beginning to bite, people may have been stocking up on warm clothing and using the car a bit more.”
April spending back to 2019 levels
Card spending in April returned to levels seen in April 2019, compared with one year ago.
Total card spending increased by $4.3 billion (117 percent) between April 2020 and April 2021.
“A big bounce back between last April and this month was inevitable, with the previous April being the first full month New Zealand spent in lockdown,” Ms Duoba said.
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This increase in spending was seen across almost all industries. Spending on hospitality dropped to extremely low levels during April 2020, and this industry saw the largest relative increase in spending – up $1.1 billion (1,942 percent) from $57 million in April 2020 to $1.2 billion in April 2021.
The consumables industry, which includes supermarket shopping, was the only industry that saw a decrease in spending – down $8.7 million (0.4 percent) from the same time last year.
“We spent all of last April unable to frequent our favourite take-outs and trying to perfect our banana-bread recipes. Having returned to our normal routines, it is not surprising to see a slight dip in supermarket spending and a large increase in restaurant spending this April,” Ms Duoba said.
While there was a large increase on 2020 levels, card spending in April was also up on 2019, by $427 million (six percent). The durables industry saw the largest increase, up $259 million (20 percent) compared with April 2019. This includes spending on things like furniture, sporting goods, pharmaceutical products, and shopping in department stores.
“With opportunities for international travel still really limited this year, Kiwis are focusing instead on upgrading their living spaces and leisure activities,” Ms Duoba said.