Consumer credit card spending has bounced back since lockdown restrictions eased in Auckland.
But the numbers are still below pre-Delta levels, Kiwibank reports.
After three months of lockdown with many businesses out of action, Auckland stepped down into alert level 3 step 2 a week ago, allowing malls and most retailers to open with eased restrictions.
Within Auckland, the number of credit card transactions rose 35 per cent over the first five days at alert lever 3 step 2, with the value of spending rising 62 per cent, revealed the latest Kiwibank household spending tracker.
However, spending in Auckland is still down 2.2 per cent but is a "significant improvement" from being down 14 per cent during alert level 3 step 1.
Kiwibank economist Mary Jo Vergara said: "as expected, department stores were the big winners from the change. The doors among retail services, however, remain locked, with close-contact service still off the cards," the survey showed.
Online purchases decreased by 10 per cent once the customers started to go to the shops.
The Government moved Auckland into level 3, step 2 on Wednesday last week. That meant retail shops could open with distancing and masks, and outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people were allowed.
Public facilities including libraries, museums and the zoo are also up and running again, but restaurants and bars must remain closed, except for take-out orders.
Food courts inside shopping malls are able to reopen but must continue to offer contactless pick-up or delivery options only. Shoppers will not be able to consume food or drink while shopping inside a mall.
After the shift in the alert level the department stores in-store credit card transactions rose eight-fold with an increase in clothing purchases and home improvement products.
"The dramatic rise in transactions is a consequence of spending flatlining throughout the lockdown period.
"Spending inside clothing and footwear stores also spiked, with those holding off their purchasing until the doors opened, preferring to try before they buy.
"Mitre 10 reports potting mix has been the most popular purchase. Click and collect saw a lift in home reno and hardware spend, but not having to wait for bumper to bumper is drawing more to visit the store.
"Overall, retail goods have taken a bigger slice of the consumer spending pie," Vergara said.
But the business which is still struggling is close contact services such as hairdressers, cinemas and hospitality.
"Transport-related spend too is yet to return to pre-Delta levels. With many still working from home and the Auckland border still in place, there's little need and ability to travel.
Retail services require more lenient restrictions to see a revival in spending," she said.
The regions outside of Auckland, Waikato and Northland border have mixed results, even though more of the regions have been on alert level 2 with the spending lifted to above pre-Delta lockdown levels.
The total Kiwibank credit and debit card spending rose eight per cent since Auckland's move to step 2. Spend on goods has increased 10 per cent. But given depressed spending on services in the largest city, total services spent is also yet to return to pre-Delta lockdown levels, down 13 per cent.
Vergara said the anticipated shift into the new traffic light system should help the recovery in services.
Sometime after November 29, Auckland is expected to move into the Red setting.
Hairdressers and gyms can open their doors, dine-in service may resume and events may occur, however with limitations on people gatherings and provided vaccination certificates are used.
Most other regions are expected to move into the less restrictive Orange setting.
"Overall spend also should take another leg higher once Auckland's drawbridge is let down. Mark your calendars – December 15 is the day.
"After being cooped up for 90 days, Aucklanders are itching to drive/sail/fly past the border. Fair warning to neighbouring regions, prepare for some excited Aucklanders," Vergara said.