Spending through Paymark dropped more than 70 per cent on the first day of lockdown, and remained at record low levels through the week to Sunday, March 29.

Spending on the Monday and Tuesday ahead of the lockdown on March 26 was, however, up about 50 per cent on the same time a year earlier. The increase was particularly up at liquor stores, hardware, homeware and recreational stores.

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Figures from Paymark, which processes around 75 per cent of the country's electronic card transactions, showed travel retailers and entertainment organisations fared the worst ahead of the lockdown, with spending in negative territory as they issued refunds to customers.

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Excluding spending on fuel, transactions through Paymark totalled $907 million in the week ending March 29. This was 33 per cent below the previous week and, on an underlying basis, 27 per cent below levels of a year ago.

At supermarkets and pharmacies, spending in the week was up compared to last year, and sharply down for accommodation operators, cafes, bars and restaurants.

The pre-lockdown spending splurge was not enough to offset the loss of sales in the week for the majority of merchants across of categories.

Spending at pharmacies for the week was 28 per cent below levels recorded a year ago.

Spending at accommodation businesses was down more than 87 per cent at restaurants, cafes and bars on March 29, down 78 per cent at accommodation firms, down 61 per cent at takeaway food providers and 57 per cent at non-retail motor vehicle outlets.

The largest decline in spending was recorded in Otago, down almost 40 per cent, followed by Auckland/Northland, down 32 per cent, and Wellington, down almost 30 per cent.