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Kiwis most concerned about financial, not health, impact of virus

Asian business woman using calculator for accounting and analyzing investment in front of computer laptop at office workspace. banking , savings , accountant , finances and economy concept.
Photo of woman using calculator.

A recent study from Kantar shows New Zealanders are most concerned about their financial health, not falling sick, as COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, continues to spread around the world.

While the number of cases in New Zealand is still low, the effect of the slowing global financial markets has hit home, with one in three respondents saying a recession is likely, and 24 per cent saying they’re concerned about their own job.

Only 22 per cent report being worried about catching the virus, in contrast to a Kantar study in Asia, where 60 per cent are concerned about falling sick.

“[W]hat people worry about most is what COVID-19 will mean for their financial security as it potentially impacts the economy in the longer term,” Jason Shoebridge, CEO of Kantar New Zealand, said in a statement.

“This poses an added problem that the behaviour of consumers will continue to be affected well after the immediate health concerns around the virus abate.”

February retail sales figures appear to show the effect of “panic buying”, with grocery food and drink sales up 2.4 per cent, the biggest increase by far of any category.

According to the Kantar study, 20 per cent of people are buying more personal hygiene items, 13 per cent are buying more home cleaning products and 12 per cent are buying health and nutritional items, such as vitamins, to improve immunity.

At the same time, cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock has warned that hackers may be using coronavirus-themed emails and links to scare people into opening attachments or divulging personal and financial information.

“Cybercriminals will attempt to steal credentials or deliver dangerous malware and ransomware by baiting users into clicking malicious links,” the company said in a statement.

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