Strong consumer retail spending and construction aplenty in Hawke's Bay have helped New Zealand officially bounce out of recession post-Covid.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rebounded 14 per cent in the September quarter - making it the strongest quarterly growth figure on record, according to Stats NZ.
The quarterly gain follows two successive reductions - the official definition of a recession - over the March and June quarters.
The industries contributing the most to the quarterly growth included construction (+52.4 per cent), retail trade and accommodation (+42.8 per cent), and manufacturing (+17.2 per cent).
Business Hawke's Bay chief executive Carolyn Neville said the news is not only a positive for New Zealand, but for Hawke's Bay specifically.
"Hawke's Bay continues to defy economists' predictions, and is among the best performing regional economies," she said.
"Long-term trends of strong consumer spending, brisk house price inflation and record consenting activity supporting the construction sector are all playing a part in keeping things ticking over economically."
Neville added: "Our regional economy has begun to recover, but has not made up the ground lost during lockdown."
National accounts senior manager Paul Pascoe said retail sales values nationwide recorded the largest rise since 1995.
"People spent more on household goods, cars and food, while residential building was at the highest-ever levels by volume," he said.
However, Napier City Business Inc manager Pip Thompson while the bounce back should be celebrated, retailers must remain "quietly cautious".
"It's no surprise, as Kiwis have been supporting local businesses, but I certainly wouldn't be popping the champagne corks – next year will be a challenging time," she said.
"Retailers are on a whole happy with their increased turnovers, but are cautious that Covid is a moving beast that it could come back at any time."
Neville said the Christmas trading period will be the litmus test for retailers across Hawke's Bay.
"It appears that local consumer confidence is high and spending, brisk. And if spending levels hold up, it may relieve pressure on employers to make further staff cuts in the New Year," she said.
"However, tourism remains an area of weakness, with the real test coming during the summer peak. With no international tourists or cruise ships visiting Hawke's Bay this season, there's a big spending gap to be filled."
Pascoe said while the retail trade, accommodation and construction industries were significantly affected by the alert level 4 restrictions in the previous quarter, a rise in GDP compared with the September 2019 quarter indicates a "return to a pre-Covid level of activity".
"However, the effects of Covid-19 have had specific and varied impacts at industry level and, for some industries, these may persist for some time," he added.
Transport, postal and warehousing rose 16.0 per cent, after falling 39.0 per cent in June, while annually, it remains almost 19.3 per cent down on the level of activity it experienced in the year to September 2019 - reflecting the impact of reduced international and domestic air travel.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said global economic activity is expected to continue to recover, although the pace of recovery was likely to be uneven.
"The full economic effects of Covid-19 are still to be felt in New Zealand and across the world," he said.