Houses might be the most popular and inflated purchases in New Zealand, but there are plenty of other products that are seeing soaring demand and prices over the past few months. Here's a list of what New Zealanders are spending their money on with international travel out of the picture.
Used cars (including vans)
In the before times, the domestic used van market went through a predictable seasonal cycle. Vans would be expensive and in short supply during spring and summer as working holiday tourists puttered round the South Island. But then in May and June, the market would flood with cheaper vehicles as their owners prepared to fly back to Europe before winter struck.
So if, like me, you were expecting the absence of international tourists to have a deflationary effect on the cost of vans, you, like me, will be bitterly disappointed. One quick look on Trade Me will reveal a noticeable jump in the asking price of everything from luxury Toyota HiAces to beat-up jalopies, as more New Zealanders look to spend their travel money on comfortable road trips.
The anecdotal observations are backed up by StatsNZ, which reported a 4.6 per cent rise in the price of used cars in the December quarter – the biggest quarterly rise in 23 years. The squeeze has been compounded by supply shortages as well, with international freight struggling to get enough cars into the country.
Aotearoa is a seafaring nation, but New Zealanders are taking to the water like never before. And with the majority of us living within 10km of the coast, it makes perfect sense.
In the last three months of 2020, sales of boats and other watercraft doubled compared to the year before, according to the Marine Industry Association. This has been a boon for the boat building industry, which has signed up 170 apprentices in the last four months compared to just 40 in the same period last year to keep up with demand.
Up to 90 per cent of trailer power boats sold in New Zealand are made here, and Marine Industry Association CEO Peter Busfield said New Zealand-made boats are considered high-end relative to international competitors.
While he couldn't say whether the prices of boats had risen, he said the demand has meant manufacturers and sellers are less willing to offer discounts or negotiate on the price.
The cavoodle craze just keeps on escalating, with buyers desperate to add a cute companion to their lives.
According to reports, some buyers are paying up to three to four times the 2019 price for puppies, and in some cases going on two-year wait lists. The demand has been such that some breeders have been forced to suspend communications with the public in order to actually focus on their litters.
The frenzy has also created ethical concerns, as less legitimate breeders are drawn into the market by the outrageous prices.
There are few better lockdown companions than a pot plant; they're quiet, require little maintenance, cleanse the air and partially simulate the outdoors. So it stands to reason that people started collecting them en masse when they became housebound in 2020.
But when you look at some of the prices, stoked in part by Instagram trends, maybe it's all gotten a bit out of hand. In August last year one woman received $8000 for her variegated minima plant, which attracted thousands of views and 384 watchers on Trade Me. The trend has continued, with several current Trade Me auctions advertising variegated monstera plants for $3000 – apparently well within the price range of the domestic botanist.
With houses becoming unobtainable and rents creeping ever higher, a compelling solution could be buying a home on wheels and taking to the open road. And that's exactly what many people seem to be doing.
According to the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, its membership soared at the end of 2020, a clear sign that more people are either venturing out to far-flung corners of Aotearoa on their holidays, or permanently adopting the itinerant lifestyle and working remotely – just as NBR owner Todd Scott did in 2020.
And with remote working becoming so easy and acceptable to more businesses, it seems a trend that will only continue. To be perfectly honest, there are plenty of DoC campgrounds around the country that I would happily call my office for the duration of the working week.