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Retail spending partially rebounds in May on grocery, furniture: StatsNZ

Furniture shopping
Furniture shopping

Retail card spending in May rebounded from the disastrously low levels seen in April, as businesses across the country reopened following the strict level-4 lockdown measures.

According to Stats NZ, retail card spending rose to $5.2 billion in May, down 6 per cent or $332 million from May 2019 but up 79.3 per cent on the $2.9 billion seen in April 2020. 

“Spending on groceries, furniture and appliances in May was even higher than the same month last year, but sales for hotels, motels, cafes and restaurants remained well below typical levels,” Stats NZ retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said. 

“The significant jump in retail spending in May was not unexpected. The partial recovery was a direct result of more businesses reopening after sales fell drastically when non-essential businesses closed under alert level 4 in April.”

Grocery and liquor sales grew $253.6 million in the month after a $274.9 million decrease in April, while furniture, hardware and appliance sales rose $122.3 million after a $1 billion freefall in April. 

“Supermarkets and grocery stores were open as an essential service throughout the lockdown and have seen strong consumer spending,” Hicks said, “[and] Kiwis have enjoyed the loosened restrictions to spend on homewares, DIY and winter supplies.”

However, each of the remaining sectors covered – motor vehicles, apparel, fuel, hospitality, services, and non-retail (medical and travel) – all continued to fall in May. 

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