Retail sales values fell an historic 15 per cent in the June 2020 quarter, due to the initial Covid-19 lockdown.
It was the biggest drop on record in figures going back 25 years, StatsNZ's Retail trade Survey showed.
"The June quarter decline was sharper than the 12 per cent contraction we expected," said Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.
But the result was "firmer than most domestic forecasters expected".
Most other New Zealand forecasters were expecting a fall of closer to 20 per cent.
Spending on eating out, accommodation away from home, vehicles, and fuel all fell sharply in the June 2020 quarter compared with the June 2019 quarter, according to the Survey released this morning.
This fall was only partly offset by strong supermarket and grocery sales.
"This unprecedented fall in the June quarter was not unexpected, with Covid-19 restrictions significantly limiting retail activity," retail statistics manager Kathy Hicks said.
"Non-essential businesses closed temporarily for about half of the quarter during alert levels 4 and 3."
Most industries saw unprecedented sales falls in the June quarter.
Sales for food and beverage services fell 40 percent or $1.2 billion in the quarter, the largest drop of any industry.
"For a team of 5 million, that is equal to each person spending about $18 a week less on eating out over the June quarter," Hicks said.
Fuel retailing had the second largest fall, down 35 per cent or $770 million.
These falls were followed by:
- motor vehicles and parts retailing, down 22 percent ($729 million)
- accommodation services, down 44 percent ($418 million)
- hardware, building, and garden supplies down 16 percent ($350 million).
Retail sales values fell across all 16 regions in the June 2020 quarter when compared with the June 2019 quarter.
"The widespread regional falls coincided with Covid-19 lockdown measures and the closure of New Zealand's borders to everyone but New Zealand citizens and residents, with a few exceptions," Hicks said.
The Auckland region had the largest dollar value fall this quarter, down 13 per cent ($1.2 billion).
Canterbury had the next largest fall in dollar terms, down 17 per cent ($516 million).
While the regions with higher population numbers recorded the largest dollar value falls in the June quarter, the drops in the South Island regions were more significant to their economy.
The Otago region, including Dunedin and Queenstown, had the largest fall in percentage terms, down 27 per cent ($343 million).
"The big drop in sales for the Otago region in part reflects the significant fall in overseas tourists visiting the Queenstown lakes region," Hicks said.
Other regions affected by less international and domestic tourism spending were: West Coast, down 22 per cent ($33 million), Southland, down 19 per cent ($89 million), Nelson, down 18 per cent ($51 million), and Tasman, down 18 per cent ($42 million).