Uncertainty around the spread of Covid-19 has seen a surge in spending at food and liquor stores in recent days.

Yesterday, New Zealanders spent $111 million at food and liquor outlets, including supermarkets, equating to a 157 per cent increase compared to the same Monday last year.

Spending at pharmacies increased by more than 120 per cent yesterday.

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Significant increases in spending at food, liquor and pharmacies have been continual over the past week but reached an all-time high yesterday, this could be the result of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing the Covid-19 alert system has been increased to level three before a full lockdown and further increase to alert level 4 from Thursday.

Paymark says for the week ending Sunday, total spending through Paymark was $1.3b - up 7.5 per cent in underlying terms on the same week in 2019.

Spending as food and liquor shops increased almost 52 per cent last week, while spending at pharmacies increased by 81 per cent.

Spending growth had already been strong in previous weeks for these two groups, but accelerated on Friday, March 13, Paymark says.

Accommodation saw the biggest drop in spending last week, down more than 36 per cent, followed by restaurant, cafes and bars, down almost 27 per cent.

Motor vehicle and non-food retail stores, excluding pharmacies, also reported a drop in spending last week.

Spending at clothing and footwear stores was down 29 per cent, while spending at hardware stores were up 16 per cent.

At the movies, spending was down 60 per cent, down 35 per cent at gyms and about 36 per cent on rental cars.


Spending at vets, automotive and garden stores were up 13 per cent, 5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Focus: Shoppers protect themselves with masks and gloves at Pakn'Save Paraparaumu. Video / Mark Mitchell

The average transaction size last week was just over $49 - up 9.2 per cent on the same week last year.

Spending growth in the week was strongest in Wairarapa, up 20 per cent, and South Canterbury, up 18 per cent.

Spending increased by 3.2 per cent in the Auckland and Northland region, 2.5 per cent in Southland declined by almost 2 per cent in Otago.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website