Coronavirus: Spending in central Auckland has collapsed almost completely


Dot Loves Data government director Justin Lester says the wage subsidy was essential in keeping businesses afloat.

Robert Kitchin

Dot Loves Data government director Justin Lester says the wage subsidy was essential in keeping businesses afloat.

Central Auckland retailers are hanging by a thread as new data shows spending in the CBD has collapsed almost completely under the alert level 3 lockdown.

Data analysts Dot Loves Data government director Justin Lester said the latest eftpos figures from Paymark showed Auckland’s consumer spending “fell into a hole” since the start of the level 3 lockdown.

Spending in Auckland’s CBD, for the week ending August 23, at department stores, bars, clothing retailers and for beauty treatments was down 99 per cent, meanwhile restaurant spending was down by 90 per cent, compared to the same time last year.

Spending on fast food was down 84 per cent and petrol stations were down 60 per cent.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that Auckland would remain in level 3 in Auckland until 11.59pm on August 30, and then move to level 2.

Auckland went into level 3 and the rest of the country to level 2 on August 12.

Latest Paymark figures show total spending in Auckland dropped by 44 per cent because of level 3 restrictions, compared to the same time last year.

Since the level 3 and level 2 restrictions came into effect earlier this month, national spending fell 18 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Auckland’s significant decline in spending was offset by increased spending in the regions compared to a year earlier.

Northland had the biggest spending spike in the country, up 18 per cent in the week the restrictions were announced. But last week spending dropped to 4.5 per cent.

Lester said spending in the regions rose in the first week restrictions were announced because of panic buying.


Stats NZ figures showed retail sales values fell a historic 15 per cent in the June quarter.

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Stats NZ figures showed retail sales values fell a historic 15 per cent in the June quarter.

However, since then, national spending had significantly slowed.

Lester said supermarkets were the only group where eftpos spending had increased.

National online spending dropped 4 per cent.

Online spending In Auckland dropped 2.2 per cent. But during the first lockdown earlier this year, online shopping spiked 95 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Lester said the significant peak during the first lockdown was primarily due to department store sales, where total sales value increased almost 10 times.

This week, Stats NZ figures showed the amount spent on retail sales fell a historic 15 per cent in the June quarter, the biggest drop since records began 25 years, according to Stats NZ.

Spending on eating out, accommodation away from home, vehicles and fuel all fell sharply in the three months ending June 30 compared with the same time last year.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said the four-day extension of the current alert levels was “hugely disappointing and frustrating” for the industry.

“With this extension in Auckland, the hospitality sector will be in a state of carnage, because these lockdown measures will have a ripple effect across the entire country,” White said.


Online shopping decreased during this lockdown, latest eftpos data shows.

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Online shopping decreased during this lockdown, latest eftpos data shows.

Hospitality businesses that were not fully set up for takeaway service were struggling to operate under level 3.

“And as for operating under level 2, this is still quite prohibitive because abiding by the three S’s and limiting venues to 100 people, greatly reduces income,” she said.

Lester said the wage subsidy was essential in keeping businesses afloat.

Applications are open for a two-week extension to the wage subsidy scheme. The third round of subsidies is expected to cost about $510 million and would cover 470,000 jobs.

More than 1.7 million jobs have been supported by the wage subsidy scheme.

White said while the wage subsidy extension had helped business owners, it did not cover other fixed costs.

“Business owners are best placed to make decisions on their business so a cash injection, like a working capital grant, will make a real difference.

“Our backs are up against the wall. We’ve suffered huge economic pain and we’re pleading as an industry that is on its knees. We urgently need targeted support,” White said.

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