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New Zealand's move to alert level 2 has brought a return to strong consumer spending in Whanganui.

Local spending from May 11 to 17 increased by 5.5 per cent compared to the same week the previous year.

The same can't be said across New Zealand though where there was a 11.2 per cent national drop.

The improved numbers reflect significant increases in sales of clothing, footwear and at department stores among others.

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Whanganui & Partners chief executive Mark Ward said it reinforced views that Whanganui was well-positioned to come out of the Covid-19 crisis.

"We've tracked the retail figures every week and we've consistently stayed ahead of the national trends," he said.

"Since Covid first started impacting our economy at the start of February, our consumer spend has gone down by 11.9 per cent compared to the same period last year. The whole country is down by 20.6 per cent for that same period."

Whanganui consumer spending is up 5.5% despite spending drops nationally. Photo / Supplied
Whanganui consumer spending is up 5.5% despite spending drops nationally. Photo / Supplied

Kellys Footwear manager Robin Ryder said business has been steady since reopening but people were still being cautious.

"People are still a bit weary about coming out to the shop. People have been quite respectful and looked after each other coming through our shop. But we've had steady custom and good days."

Ryder said it had been good to see some familiar faces.

"It's been good to see everyone, friends and customers that come in on a regular basis. I think everyone is happy to be out and about again.

"Please do shop local, keep the businesses going. Because if people don't come out, then we are going to lose shops in Whanganui and we don't want that happening."

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Ken Wilson from Wilsons Hunting and Outdoors said they were busy last week as people prepared for the opening weekend of duck hunting season, but he is worried what the future may hold.

"Everyone's been locked down for that long, they all need winter clothes. Everyone is trying to make the most of it (hunting season).

"Opening weekend is fairly big, but now I think we will see a steady decline in sales. We will just have to wait and see."

Wilson said they have been heavily impacted as customers couldn't hunt or fish during the lockdown.

"We missed a fair bit of action. The timing couldn't have been worse."

Ward said reaching our return to year-on-year growth before most of the country shows Whanganui has retained momentum.

"This growth in consumer spend is what our businesses need to make inroads into the losses experienced through lockdown.

"This has been a hugely disruptive period for our business community and businesses' quickly adapting to changing regulations and demand has been truly inspirational. Our consumers have continued to spend with them throughout the period, even in level 4, and that's great for our whole economy," he said.

"We're encouraging locals to get out there and spread their money around – visit that cafe or restaurant you might not have tried before. We also intend to continue to grow our market share of national visitor spend by promoting weekend trips to our region."