Shoppers still investing in their homes as long-lasting goods continue to shine

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Shoppers are continuing to spend on their homes in March Stats NZ figures show.

Seasonally adjusted electronic card spending rose in four of the six retail industries in March compared with February, with higher sales of long-lasting goods such as furniture, hardware, and appliances (durables), up $29 million or, 1.8 per cent.

Stats NZ Retail Statistics manager Kathy Hicks said despite spending constraints caused by Auckland’s return to alert level 3, card sales had rebounded from a “lacklustre” February.

Spending on the grocery and liquor industry had the largest fall during March, down $74m or 3.3 per cent from the previous month.

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“Recent monthly falls in the consumables sector reflect the softer growth in this industry following the much higher spending levels seen since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020,” Hicks said.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Card spending is up in March after a lacklustre February, says Stas NZ. (File photo)

Spending in the non-retail industries such as travel agencies, health and pharmaceuticals, wholesaling had the largest rise, up $86m 5.7 per cent in March.

Year-on-year, retail card spending was $17 billion in the March quarter, increasing $100m (0.6 per cent) from the March quarter last year.

“With New Zealand moving up Covid-19 alert levels several times over the quarter, card spending was inevitably affected with all but the long-lasting durables industry sales falling from the December quarter,” Hicks said.

The hospitality industry fared better in March, compared with March last year.

The hospitality industry rose $215m or 26 per cent, from March last year , despite the lack of tourists.

The rise was primarily driven by an increase in the food and beverage sub-industry, up $223m, or 34 per cent, while the accommodation sub-industry fell $7m, or 4.6 per cent, over the same period.

“The food and beverage businesses have survived hardship over the year and managed to see spending increase this March to values seen pre-Covid-19,” Hicks said.

“On the other hand, accommodation businesses are still suffering from the lack of international tourism.”

ASB senior economist Mark Smith said the monthly numbers reflected volatility in spending at the moment.

The year-on-year numbers were also starting from the depressed level of March last year, he said.

But the relatively spending increase in the March quarter reflected that consumers were not playing a key role in the country’s economic recovery at the moment, Smith said.

”Households are still willing to support the recovery but not as much as they have been in previous quarters.”

There was the potential that the country had entered into a mild recession, he said.