3 Sep 2021

Credit scores remained stable in August level 4 lockdown - data

8:15 am on 3 September 2021

New data shows the commercial and financial shock of the latest Covid-19 lockdown has not been as severe as last year's lockdowns, although there are signs of strain.

Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping

Photo: 123rf

Credit reporting firm Centrix said credit scores, arrears levels and financial hardship cases remained stable in August.

Consumer credit demand fell 30 percent compared with a 70 percent fall last year.

Centrix managing director Keith McLaughlin said people appeared to be better prepared for this year's lockdown.

"It is likely New Zealanders entered this lockdown with more confidence, remembering the strong economic rebound that followed last year's lockdown.

"But a long lockdown in Auckland might change this, putting pressure on businesses and households and requiring the introduction of further monetary and fiscal support."

He said it was comforting that credit demand was holding up better than the first lockdown, so far.

Buy now, pay later, had a slight uptick as lockdown drove an increase in online shopping.

Other sectors have trended down, with auto and energy sectors hardest hit since the change to level 4.

Mortgage applications also fell to the lowest level this year, alongside car loans, personal loans and new credit card applications.

However, McLaughlin said business closures and credit defaults were rising as smaller firms experienced greater cashflow issues.

He said if more households also encounter cashflow problems, there could be a reintroduction of the mortgage deferral scheme, but the demand for a scheme was not there yet.

"Having said that I think most of the lenders would recognise that if somebody is in difficulty they would expect them to make contact and they would set up a repayment programme that would be suitable.

"So even though there's no formal deferral scheme in place I'm sure that the lenders out there would accommodate any particular issues relating to Covid," he said.

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