Clothing retailers, bookstores, restaurants among financial losers of lockdown

Clothing, footwear and book retailers, restaurants and petrol stations are among the financial losers of the lockdown, according to the latest data from New Zealand payment service Paymark.

Paymark’s study shows only a small number of businesses have benefited from the country’s recent move to Alert Level 2.

Overall spending has lifted significantly as New Zealand moved from COVID-19 Alert Level 4 to Level 3 and now to Level 2, but merchant experience is very mixed, Paymark said.

During Level 4, spending at retail merchants, including supermarkets, was half of what it was a year ago on average.

“If we exclude supermarkets, liquor outlets and pharmacies, the remaining large subset saw spending of around 90 per cent below the levels seen a year ago,” Paymark said.

Spending for this same all-retail group during the week ending May 17, which included some days at Level 3 and some days at Level 2, was down by only 11 per cent on the same week last year in total.

“Again, if we exclude supermarkets, liquor outlets and pharmacies, the remainder of the retail sector was down 26 per cent year on year last week, also an improvement on the previous week,” the payment service company said. 

Spending in the week ending May 10, when Level 3 was still fully in force, was down by 35 per cent (total retail) and 66 per cent (retail excluding supermarkets, liquor outlets and pharmacies). 

Supermarkets and some superettes and dairies have experienced higher spending throughout the entire lockdown period.


Spending at petrol stations, on the other hand, has been down across the board. These two groups made up around 47 per cent of pre-COVID retail spending through Paymark.

A larger group that represents around 21 per cent of pre-COVID retail spending saw very little spending at all during Level 4. They saw improvement during Level 3, but spending was still below last year at -21 per cent.

So far, during Level 2, spending for this group has been strong, running at 30 per cent above last year. Included in this group are food takeaways, specialised food shops, liquor outlets, garden centres and stores selling electronics, appliances, hardware and floor coverings.

Outside the retail sector, one noteworthy turnaround is the beauty and hairdressing merchant group, now running 61 per cent above last year in Level 2.

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