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Retail card spending resurgence in June – Media release

10 July 2020

Retail spending on furniture, hardware, appliances, and recreational goods helped boost June total sales up to $5.7 billion, Stats NZ said today.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown, which started late March, we saw a significant drop in spending as the majority of businesses closed. The full force of the lockdown on sales came into effect in April, with more typical total levels of spending returning in June,” retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.

Of the six retail industries, spending increased for four (consumables, durables, apparel, and vehicles) compared with last June.

Retail therapy

Furniture, hardware, appliances, and recreational goods (durables) experienced the largest rise, up $310 million (24 percent) compared with June 2019.

“Businesses that sold furniture, supplies for DIY home projects, and snow gear, among other goods, experienced a decent boost this June,” Ms Hicks said. “New Zealanders were taking part in some well-deserved retail therapy after being unable to purchase these items in stores during lockdown.”

Health care spending revives in June has more information on card spending on durables sub-industries and other retail industries.

Supermarkets, specialised foods, and liquor stores (consumables) had the second largest increase, up $205 million (11 percent) on the same month last year.

“Consumables sales remain up this side of the lockdown, while the hospitality industry is still finding its legs. It seems people continue to spend more on groceries than on restaurants and eating out,” Ms Hicks said.

International travelling spend missed

Only two of the six retail industries (fuel and hospitality) experienced a drop in spending. Spending on fuel was down $84 million (15 percent), and on hospitality, it was down $74 million (7.3 percent) from June 2019.

“The drop in fuel spending would have been affected by cheaper pump prices and flexible working arrangements – many businesses only started returning to the office after the move to alert level 1 on 8 June,” Ms Hicks said. “While the hospitality industry is being propped up by domestic travel and tourism, it is still constrained without international tourism to boost the spending.”

Actual retail card spending using electronic cards reached $5.7 billion in June 2020, up $421 million (8.0 percent) from June 2019.

June quarter

Actual retail card spending using electronic cards was $18 billion in the June 2020 quarter, down $4.5 billion (20 percent) from the June 2019 quarter.

“The falls this quarter occurred primarily in April and somewhat in May, with June being a return to more usual card spending,” Ms Hicks said.

Retail card spending was down $2.5 billion (15 percent) for the June 2020 quarter, compared with the June 2019 quarter, with the majority of the retail industries experiencing falls.

Consumables was the only retail industry that didn’t experience a fall during the quarter. It was up $651 million (11 percent) from the June 2019 quarter.

“Supermarkets and grocery stores were one of the main essential services that didn’t close during the lockdown, and the card spending reflects that,” Ms Hicks said.