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Manufacturing sales shrink during COVID-19 lockdown – Media release

9 September 2020

Manufacturing sales volumes fell a record 12 percent in the June 2020 quarter, after many businesses temporarily stopped production during the COVID-19 lockdown, Stats NZ said today.

“This is the largest fall in manufacturing sales since the series began in 1994, equivalent to a drop of $3.1 billion compared with the June 2019 quarter,” business statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown for most of April non-essential businesses had to close, causing production in many manufacturing businesses to stop or be restricted,” Ms Hicks said.

“At the same time, demand for some products fell with most shops and services closed with only essential businesses such as supermarkets remained open.”

Twelve manufacturing industries saw falls in sales volumes for the June 2020 quarter.

Petrol manufacturing sales running on empty

Petroleum and coal products had the largest industry sales volume decrease, down 33 percent ($816 million) from June 2019.

“The reduction in sales for the oil refining industry reflects lower fuel demand with international travel restrictions, and lockdown meant most people could not travel by road or air within New Zealand, either,” Ms Hicks said.

“The falls in sales brings the petrol and coal manufacturing industry to its lowest quarterly value in the history of the series.”

Crude oil imports dry up in July has more international trade information on the monthly oil and other commodities imports.

Metal product manufacturing falls this June

The second-largest sales volume fall was in the metal products industry, down 22 percent ($586 million) compared with June 2019.

“The falls in metal products come off the back of a drop in international prices and less demand for aluminium and steel,” Ms Hicks said.

“Metal product manufacturing sales were down to levels last seen in 2013.”

Meat and dairy holds up manufacturing

Meat and dairy industry volumes in the June 2020 quarter were relatively unchanged from June 2019.

“Due to high international dairy prices and exports of these products, dairy and meat product manufacturing managed to weather the brunt of COVID-19,” Ms Hicks said.

“These essential food-related businesses continued working during the lockdown.”

Export prices hit new high has more on the June quarter export prices for goods produced in New Zealand.

With price effects included, the actual total value of all manufacturing sales was $25.7 billion in the June quarter, down $2.7 billion from the June 2019 quarter.

Business Data Collection June 2020 quarter data, released today, contains financial business data covering most of New Zealand’s economy. It provides indicators of sales, purchases, salaries and wages, and operating profit.