More than half of New Zealanders have become more mindful of how they spend their money because of lockdown, according to a new University of Otago report.
Lockdown appears to have had a deep effect on consumer habits, with some changes potentially more than just temporary, as Kiwis embrace new ways of doing things even when restrictions ease.
According to the latest New Zealand Consumer Lifestyles Report, Kiwis have, overall, been spending less and saving more as a result of the first lockdown in March last year.
The report shows that 43 per cent of New Zealanders reduced their consumer spending as a result of lockdown, while 52 per cent started to shop locally, and 42 per cent shopped online more.
Lead author Associate Professor Leah Watkins says she was most surprised about how 57 per cent of respondents had become more mindful of their spending since the first lockdown in March 2020.
"They are more committed to shopping locally and have also engaged in brand switching behaviours, such as trying new brands (33 per cent), less expensive brands (38 per cent) and less luxury brands (41 per cent)," Watkins says.
A rise in home cooking, as a result of lockdown restrictions, has also seen an increase in groceries spending, the only category to see an increase. A total of 54 per cent of respondents said they had increased their home cooking as a result of the first lockdown.
"Overall, people have reduced their discretionary consumer spending on restaurants, outside entertainment and travel, which has gone into savings and also into more 'at home' spending on food and entertainment."
A decrease in consumer spending has also led to changes in debt and savings behaviour. A total of 26 per cent of people surveyed said they have reduced their debt, while 35 per cent increased their savings and 24 per cent increased investing.
Kiwis have also been looking at the ways they access things like health advice, such as telemedicine (16 per cent), meal kits (16 per cent) and home fitness (23 per cent).
Watkins believes the latest lockdown will lead people to re-assess their spending habits once again and some of those changes may become "new habits".
"It is likely this most recent lockdown will have seen consumers re-evaluate their consumer spending again, and given the possibility of ongoing lockdowns, it is more likely that new or changed behaviours will become new habits."
However, consumer spending is likely to increase again once lockdown eases for the whole country, much like it did when lockdown ended last year.
"In terms of economic recovery, we saw consumer spending return quickly post 2020 lockdown and it is likely we will see the same this time as consumers regain access to consumption goods that have been limited and use the savings they have accumulated," Watkins said.
The latest New Zealand Consumer Lifestyles Report surveyed 1640 people in late 2020 with the aim of providing insights into the lifestyles, consumption patterns and choices, and behavioural trends of New Zealanders.
The report used data collected six months after New Zealand's first lockdown ended, and may shed some light into how consumer behaviour will change once the current lockdown is over.