While online retail traded relatively regularly in February, the impact on spending habits due to COVID-19 were apparent in March according to BNZ’s online retail sales data.
Spending on groceries and liquor online rose 42 per cent during March 2020 as customers increasingly stockpiled in anticipation of entering lockdown late in the month.
Additionally, spending on pharmacy, cosmetics, stationary, antiques and flowers rose 10 per cent, and electronics rose 7 per cent.
Furniture, housewares and hardware stayed flat on March 2019, though spending in entertainment and department stores fell 2 per cent, and clothing and footwear fell a massive 19 per cent.
As borders closed, spending at domestic online retailers jumped 24 per cent though this can also be attributed to the large spike in grocery spend.
Inversely, spending at international retailers fell 18 per cent. While this figure has already been tracking downward since the international GST was brought in in December 2019, March saw a fall ahead of the curve.
And while March only contained six full days of lockdown, the retail industry saw a much larger change during the month of April with many retailers forced to shut for the majority of the month.
“We are likely to see wider disparity between spending at online sites selling ‘essentials’ and others [that were] closed for most of April,” Bank of New Zealand director Gary Baker said.