Where and how is the lack of international tourism impacting New Zealand spending?

29 March 2021

To understand how the lack of international tourists has impacted New Zealand this summer, DOT has analysed EFTPOS NZ spending data from 1 October 2020 – 28 February 2021 and benchmarked this against the same period in 2019/20. This period takes into account the traditional peak of international tourists and helps us to understand the strength of the New Zealand economy and whether spend is going up or down, compared with the pre-Covid period.

For New Zealand, total Eftpos NZ spending for October 2020 – February 2021 was down by -3.9% compared with October 2019 – February 2020.

For all of New Zealand, strongly performing sectors include:

● DIY stores +17.1%
● Luxury goods stores +14.8%
● Liquor outlets +12.7%
● Household appliances +11.4%
● Beauty treatments +8.0%
● Vehicle sales +6.9%
● Apparel +3.5%
● Grocery +3.0%
● Fast food +4.0%
● Restaurants +1.0%
● Pharmacies +2.3%

Sectors struggling the most included:

● Travel agencies -95.4%
● Accommodation (hotels and motels) -55.5%
● Airports -37.2%
● Petrol stations - 17.2%
● Tourist attractions -16.2%
● Public transport providers -14.3%

What this shows is a K-shaped response depending on whether the sector is focused on New Zealand household spending, which has outperformed in sectors such as DIY and household appliances, compared with tourism and transport related sectors, where weakness continues and is likely to be sustained until borders open.

The weakest consumer spending is exhibited in an area that wouldn’t have come to mind for most commentators, with the Auckland Airport precinct of Mangere-Otahuhu being most heavily affected.

Those most negatively impacted include:

● Mangere-Otahuhu -41.2
● Queenstown -38.1%
● Auckland CBD -34%
● Southland District -33.5%
● Mackenzie District -21.2%
● Westland -20.0%
● Central Otago - 16.0%
● Greymouth -13.1%
● Kaikoura -13.9%
● Buller -11.7%

The strongest performance is seen in those areas benefiting from strong domestic tourism, including:

● Carterton +14.1%
● Gisborne +10.2%
● Whakatane +7.1%
● Porirua +5.3%
● Lower Hutt +4.1%
● Thames-Coromandel +4.1%

For the main centres, Auckland was down -7.2%, Hamilton +1.2%, Tauranga +3.3%, Wellington -2.0%, Christchurch -6.5% and Dunedin -6.0%.