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Lockdowns decimate card spending

New Zealand’s retail card spending in August recorded a 19.8-per-cent fall month on month due to the Level 4 lockdown, according to Stats NZ.

Meanwhile, spending in the core retail industries was down 17.9 per cent, equivalent to $997 million, compared to July’s figure. However, this latest drop in monthly seasonally adjusted card spending was less than half compared to the same period last year when the country underwent a lockdown for almost the entire month.

“The card spending habits of New Zealanders were broadly similar during both lockdowns, but this time around we saw an increase for one spending category,” Ricky Ho, business performance manager.

The consumable category, which includes groceries, liquor, and specialised food, was the only sector that experienced growth during the month, up 9.3 per cent or $216 million. While card spending in furniture, hardware, and appliances was down 35.5 per cent, the apparel sector saw a 40.7-per-cent drop in spending.

Stats NZ said despite 28 million fewer transactions compared to last year, the average value per transaction increased by 9.4 per cent over the year to reach $55.

“As expected, the total number of transactions fell sharply since this time last year,” Ho added. “We have not seen this level of card activity since May last year, when the whole country was last under level 3 lockdown.”

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