Consumer confidence has fallen sharply and now sits at levels not seen since the low point of the global financial crisis in 2009, according to the Westpac McDermott Miller survey for the June quarter.
However, with Covid-19 pushing the economy into a deep recession, a bigger drop had been expected by economists.
That's a fundamental point in these confidence surveys and perhaps even in the wider public attitude to this crisis and recovery.
And it helps to explain why so many people are taking such a positive attitude to such a grim situation.
It doesn't matter how bad things might be, if they are better than expected it seems humans are hard-wired to take a more optimistic outlook.
"While economic confidence is at low levels, we were actually braced for a much larger drop," said Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.
"Compared to previous large downturns, like the recessions in the 1990s or the Global Financial Crisis, the fall in confidence this time has been moderate so far. That's likely to reflect New Zealand's success in limiting the spread of the virus and the earlier than anticipated easing in lockdown restrictions."
Let's face it, as New Zealand went into lockdown three months ago we didn't know what to expect - but we knew it wasn't going to be good.
People were stockpiling toilet paper!
We were in uncharted territory - the world hadn't seen a pandemic like this for 100 years.
That had many fearing we were headed for a Great Depression-style economic and social meltdown.
Now - thanks to massive levels of fiscal and monetary policy stimulus, and a strong health-based political response - we're facing a tough recession.
Just a tough recession ... phew!
The latest Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index fell 7 points in June, taking it to 97.2.
That is the lowest consumer confidence has been since 2009.
That was not a great year for the economy.
It's interesting, then, to note that those with more vivid memories of the GFC seem to be most cautious and concerned now.
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"The loss of confidence was particularly marked among older consumers and those on higher incomes," said Imogen Rendall, market research director of McDermott Miller.
"Only the 18-29 age group remains optimistic, with little loss in confidence since the last quarter."
New Zealand hasn't been through a proper recession since 2009, which means there's a new generation of consumers with no real memory of what they are like.
It's not so surprising that those who remember recessions past - especially those who remember the really tough days New Zealand faced from 1987 to 1993 - should feel more nervous.
The survey also showed the number of people who expect good economic conditions over the coming 12 months fell to its lowest level in eight years.
Most households were more optimistic about the outlook for their own finances than they are about the economy more generally.
"In fact, most households we spoke to think that their own financial position will improve over the coming year," Ranchhod said.
"We'll be watching if that optimism is sustained over the coming months, as it could have important implications for spending and activity through the back half of the year."
The relative resilience in consumer confidence was a positive sign for activity through the back half of the year, he said.
"It adds to a range of other indications that the economic fallout from Covid may not be quite as severe as we first feared. That said, we are still expecting a severe recession and a big increase in unemployment, so it is possible that consumer confidence will fall further next quarter."
The number of households that think now is a good time to purchase a major household item has fell to its lowest level in more than a decade.
However, there was a pickup in spending on household furnishings and other durable items.
"Some of that was likely due to pent-up demand after the lockdown," Ranchhod said. "This weakness in spending appetites points to the risk of renewed weakness in parts of
the retail sector."
As Ranchhod notes we are still at nearer the starting point than the end of this recession. Unemployment wil certainly rise in the coming months.
It will be interesting to see whether New Zealanders can maintain their optimistic mindset as the memories of that first apocalyptic Covid-19 shock fade.
The good news is that confidence can be self-fulfilling when it comes to economics.
If consumers stay positive and keep spending then the downturn may continue to be better than expected.