The alert level shift overnight allows New Zealanders to shop for non-essential items again – including Aucklanders, if the business is in a level 3 area.
Alert level 3 started for all of the country south of Auckland at midnight last night, bringing with it a return to takeaways and online shopping.
Northland remains at alert level 4 for at least another two days, and Auckland for at least another fortnight – the first time there has been a split between levels 3 and 4 in New Zealand.
But the alert level split means customers in Auckland will still be able to purchase non-essential items from south of the city, says Retail NZ.
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Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the alert level restrictions would apply to where the order was fulfilled, not the buyer's location.
"Customers in Auckland and Northland will be able to shop online for contactless delivery - but what they can buy will depend on where the business they are shopping from can fulfil orders," he said.
"A business in the level 4 area can only sell 'essential' goods, while a business in a level 3 area can sell anything, including for delivery to Auckland and Northland.
"Retail NZ doesn't think this makes sense and would like to see level 4 businesses be able to offer a broader range of goods online, so long as they can keep their teams safe."
He said there could also be instances where a business headquartered in Auckland could fulfil non-essential orders from a branch in a level 3 area.
A NZ Post spokesperson said they were gearing up for an influx of mail when most of the country shifted to alert level 3.
Under alert level 4, a business had to prove it was essential to operate, whereas at alert level 3 it only needed to be able to deliver contactless service.
They confirmed Aucklanders would be able to have non-essential items delivered from businesses in level 3 areas, but stressed there would be delays of up to several days.
NZ Post chief customer officer Bryan Dobson asked for patience and understanding as they worked to deliver parcels safely.
"Your item will get to you, it may just take a few more days than it would at normal times," he said.
"While you may be excited to receive your item from us, we ask everyone to please strictly respect the two-metre rule for our people, and to not approach couriers and posties as they deliver your items."
Head of Trade Me Marketplace Ivan Fuyala said Kiwis would be able to use their site as normal under alert level 3.
They recommended that all trades were contactless, with members using the "Book a courier" service, and making payments via Ping, bank transfer or afterpay.
Currently they were seeing high volumes of searches for face masks – 59,100 in the past week, with more than 600 listings on the site.
Fuyala said they had also observed an increase in "boredom-busting" searching, for items to liven up the bubble.
"In the past seven days we have seen a 15 per cent increase in searches for Playstation 5s when compared with the week prior, with over 17,000 searches," he said.
"Lego has been another popular search, seeing 66,000 searches in the past seven days. This marks a 16 per cent increase on the week prior.
"Spa pools have also seen a 35 per cent increase in searches in the past week when compared with the seven days prior, seeing 12,200 searches."
Fuyala said they were expecting high numbers of inquiries for items highly sought after in last year's level 3, such as bikes, work-out equipment, TVs and Nintendos.
When the country entered alert level 3 in April last year, the site had 809,000 searches for bikes in the first week alone.
On the first day of alert level 3, April 28, they also saw a signs of people cleaning out their homes during lockdown.
"We saw a 134 per cent jump in the number of new listings for homewares, along with 113 per cent jump in listings for electronics, when compared with the same day in 2019."
"Wardrobes around the country also got a tidy up and we saw a 15 per cent increase in the number of new listings for clothing onsite on April 28 last year when compared with the same day in 2019."