Aucklanders' spending at chemists and supermarkets spiked massively after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in New Zealand.

New Zealand's first and only confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced late on Friday after a person who had flown in from Iran tested positive for the virus.

The next day, Saturday, February 29, spending at chemists and supermarkets was noticeably higher than the same day in 2019, especially in Auckland.

The latest Paymark data - covering most card-based transactions - showed spending up 75.5 per cent in Auckland compared to the equivalent day last year while the city's supermarket spend shot up 40.2 per cent.


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Long queues were seen at some supermarkets in the city on the weekend, with reports of toilet paper, rice, bottled water and hand sanitiser selling out.

Supermarket suppliers have reassured the public there's no risk of the country running out of food.

Overall spending on China-issued credit cards has dropped sharply compared to a year ago, down 39.3 per cent in February 2020 compared to February 2019, Paymark said this morning.

Foreign nationals coming from mainland China have been banned from travelling to New Zealand since February 2 in a bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

However, spending on China-issued cards was up 19.8 per cent in January. Both changes had occurred across a wide range of sectors.

Chemists in particular saw almost double the amount of spending from China-issued cards, up 94.1 per cent in January compared to last year.

Paymark said overall spending was up 6.7 per cent in February compared to last year but that could be partly explained by the extra leap year day.