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Card spending plummets during Delta outbreak

Merchant fees are costing New Zealanders too much, says Retail NZ. Image: @nina_p_v via Twenty20.

New Zealand card spending has plunged 43 per cent due to the Covid-19 Delta lockdown, according to data from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ)

However, despite the significant fall, the rate of reduction during the first full week of the latest lockdown to last Friday was lower than during the comparable time in New Zealand’s Level Four lockdown last year, when it was down 58 per cent. 

“This suggests the economic impact of this lockdown may be less extreme than we experienced during Level Four lockdown last year,” said Paul Conway, chief economist at BNZ. “This could reflect higher confidence about job security and the likelihood that the Delta lockdown will be shorter. It may also be because we are now better at working and shopping online.”

While spending on food increased by 8 per cent during the week, compared to the four weeks prior to lockdown, card spending on restaurants and clothes fell by 93 per cent and 60 per cent respectively due to those retail outlets being closed.

“Lockdowns are extremely challenging for businesses, but the declining trend of cases in Auckland is cause for optimism and government support will help soften the blow,” said Conway. 

“Household balance sheets appear to be in a strong position too, which positions the country well for rebounding from this outbreak.”

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