A dive in spending has been quite pronounced in Northland since the last confirmed Covid case but the region's future outlook looks strong given some sectors are performing above expectation, according to a leading economist.
Changing Covid alert levels has seen some in the hospitality sector lose up to 50 per cent of business since the positive case on January 23 - and the situation got worse after a change in alert levels on Sunday.
However, a pleasing aspect is an increasing number of people using the Covid Tracer App especially since a woman tested positive for the virus last month.
Senior economist at Infometrics, Brad Olsen, said it was reassuring to see spending bounce back in Northland after a pronounced drop since January 24.
"One of the challenges is going to be Northland's isolation from the rest of New Zealand. However back in August when Auckland was in level 3, Northland was the best-performing region with spending up 6.1 per cent between August 17 and 30.
"It does suggest that local spending will help the region get through this time. Businesses are resilient, they've been here before, and the feeling talking to them is they're better positioned to cope, to work in periods of uncertainty."
While some sectors such as hospitality and small retail outlets struggle, Olsen said primary industries - particularly dairy and construction - and a lack of job losses would help steer the region ahead in the weeks and months ahead.
He said he expected the Government to announce additional help for certain sectors such as retailers. For example, footwear sellers have experienced a drop in sales of up to 50 per cent across New Zealand, as Kiwis concentrate more on food, along with house builds and renovation.
Owner of Cafe Central in Whangārei's Cameron St Mall, Ros Mengy, is doubtful her business would pick up given the latest trend.
"I've been losing customers, not just after the change in alert levels last weekend, but since Covid started last year. Since the woman tested positive in Northland last month, I estimate I've lost half the customers.
"I am not optimistic, given how worried people are and you can see a lot of empty shops around town," she said.
Two businesses adjacent to her cafe, Spice Traders and Cuzzies, closed down recently and "To Lease" signs have been put up by Harcourts.
Inder Singh of Cameron St Dairy said foot traffic was down this week and it could be due to a combination of factors such as bad weather, people running out of money and a rise in unemployment.
He said those working in town seem to mostly be walking through the doors of small and medium businesses in town.
Le Bistro de Paris cafe owner Miranda Pollard has noticed fewer people in town this week, saying the Covid outbreak has kept them away.
"They tend to stay home when these big Covid announcements are made. Sometimes, it'll just be for a few days but they do get scared. They get the message that they should stay home so there are repercussions for businesses in town," she said.
Pollard said on the bright side, people were using the Covid Tracer App a lot more than in the past.
Matt Brown of Walton St Cafe said it certainly been a "quiet" week but that could be because schools have reopened, as well as bad weather in Whangārei.
"Maybe we are not seeing a lot of retirees but that happened the last time alert levels changed. But a lot of people are using the Covid Tracer app, unlike in the past," he said.
The Fat Camel Cafe on Quality St hasn't seen an impact from alert level changes.
"During the last case of the woman, that had an impact. The whole town was quiet for a few days then business picked up strongly. Most businesses have had a strong start to 2021," owner Idan Ben-Ze'ev said.
NorthChamber chief executive Steve Smith said it was unclear at this stage what impact the Auckland restrictions would have on Northland businesses, "but we have been through this before and there is a level of resilience in Northland".
Meanwhile, Northland business leaders are encouraging businesses needing to travel across alert level boundaries to register for the new Business Travel Document available from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Businesses needing to travel across alert level boundaries will need to register and have proof they are either fit into a permitted activity or have a specific exemption to travel.
Northland Inc chief executive Murray Reade said it was essential Northland remained open for business during Auckland level 3 restrictions.
"The new MBIE system is designed to keep businesses operating and to avoid the sort of border disruption we saw six months ago when Auckland was last at level 3.
"Any business that qualifies as a permitted activity is already allowed to cross the boundary but getting the official Business Travel Document will make the process much quicker and easier.
"It's also a wise move to ask any suppliers who are critical to the running of your business, to go through the same registration process," he said.
Businesses can register at services.businessconnect.govt.nz.
Business Travel Documents include a QR code, which boundary officials will scan as they cross the Auckland boundary.