3 Sep 2021

New data from Westpac NZ shows a dramatic change in spending habits by New Zealanders in the first fortnight of lockdown.

Home meal kits and digital downloads were in hot demand as households readjusted to life within their own four walls, while shops such as bakeries and fast food stores saw a massive drop off in business.

Westpac NZ Chief Experience Officer Oliver Lynch says Kiwis aren’t just spending money on different things than usual, but they’re spending at different times of the day.

“Transaction levels between 10pm and midnight have been 61% lower than usual during lockdown, which reflects we’re not going out and socialising with friends, or perhaps that we’re just getting to bed earlier for a good night’s sleep,” Mr Lynch says.

“Spending on downloaded content from companies like Apple and Amazon as a proportion of all spending has more than doubled from 2.3% to 5%, while the share of transactions at specialty food markets like Farro and home meal kit companies like Hello Fresh are up from 1.8% to 3.1%, a 72% increase in share.

“In other words, Kiwis are reading, binge-watching and cooking up a storm.”

Purchases were down 99% at bakeries and 97% at fast food retailers, with vending machines making up much of the remaining spending. Transactions at building supply companies and service stations also dropped by 82% and 57% from their pre-lockdown levels respectively.

Supermarket spending accounted for 22% of all transactions – up from 16% in pre-lockdown times.

“It’s clear that many small businesses like bakeries and cafes have been hit hard by the latest lockdown. We’re helping them with support options like temporary overdrafts to help them manage cashflow issues, and have waived minimum merchant service fees for small businesses for September and October.”

With more people shopping online during lockdown, Mr Lynch says it’s important to stay vigilant against fraud and scams.

“While we detect and prevent more fraud and scams every year, shoppers can also help keep themselves safe by never giving out online banking passwords or providing credit card details to online giveaways or contests.

“When buying online, investigate the website you’re buying from to make sure it’s legitimate.  It can be as simple as typing the name of the product or retailer into Google along with the word “scam” – if it’s a scam, there will usually be information about it already online.”

Mr Lynch says Westpac’s data draws on transactional debit and credit card data from its customers and merchant data from Westpac businesses, to provide a representative sample of all consumer card spending.

All of the data is anonymised and aggregated.


Editor’s note: All data comparisons are based on transaction volumes between the immediate pre-lockdown period (1 – 17 August) and the first two weeks of lockdown (18 – 31 August).