Retail data in Taranaki shows a sharp spike in spending in the week leading up to the 21 March announcement of a four-stage Covid-19 alert system.
Spending in the province increased 14.5 percent, well ahead of the national average increase of 10.1 percent.
At the time, advice was issued for those 70 or older and the immune-compromised to stay at home and for any non-essential travel within New Zealand to stop. Border restrictions were also put in place in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
Venture Taranaki figures show the food/liquor/pharmacy category jumped 53.4 percent while home and recreational spending was up 15 percent.
Conversely, clothing and department store spending was down 25.5 percent, hospitality dropped 19.8 percent and fuel spending fell 10.5 percent.
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Venture Taranaki spokesperson Anne Probert said the sudden change in spending patterns during the week of key Covid-19 announcements reflected what many people experienced first-hand.
"The initial rush to grocery outlets, pharmacies and medical outlets to stock up ahead of a potential lockdown reflects the concerns of local residents. And the data demonstrates a reluctance to head out to restaurants, cafes and social gatherings," Probert said.
"Those travelling started to reconsider their plans, looking to head home early, or stay home, with subsequent impacts on hotels/motel bookings as well as spending in areas such transportation and fuel."
Probert said Venture Taranaki would continue to track changes in retail statistics and was looking to introduce other measures to assess the impacts of Covid-19 on Taranaki's broader economy.
"We are very conscious this has impacted businesses, livelihoods, jobs and the well-being of our communities, and encourage any enterprise or business who is needing support during this challenging time to reach out to us. A range of support and advisory packages are available from Venture Taranaki and the government, and these can make a real difference."