17 Nov 2022

How and when people spend money has changed since the pandemic began, new data shows

4:47 pm on 17 November 2022
AUCKLAND, NZ - MAY 29:Traffic on Queen street  on May 29 2013.It's a major commercial thoroughfare in the Auckland CBD, New Zealand's main population center.

Auckland CBD has seen a decline in shoppers, Mastercard economist David Mann says. Photo: 123rf.com

There has been a noticeable shift in how and when consumers are spending their money, according to data collected by Mastercard.

Mastercard's chief economist for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa David Mann said consumer behaviour had changed since the pandemic began, which backed up what merchants were experiencing.

Central business districts were seeing a decline in foot traffic, he said, in the same way as Sydney, London and New York had seen a drop-off since the pandemic began.

"And it does also apply in our view in Auckland too," Mann said.

"The more central business district areas have taken much longer to see a recovery and spend versus what they had in 2019. And also, the small and medium sized businesses amongst the merchants have been lagging behind the larger businesses."

There had also been a shift in when consumers shop and took part in leisure activities, he said.

"And one of the most obvious ones that we find interesting is that spending at cinemas and movie theatres has been spread more in favour of weekdays at the expense of weekends."

New Zealand consumers had also been saving more money since the pandemic began, he said, which should provide some buffer to the high inflation and interest rate environment.

In addition, any easing in China's Covid-related restrictions was expected to significantly boost inbound tourism and the local economy, he said.

China's absence from international tourism was being felt around the world and even a gradual easing in travel restrictions would make a big difference, Mann said.

"While we have seen a surge in flight bookings out of Hong Kong, since they have removed their quarantine restrictions, it may not be quite as rapid coming from mainland China.

"But even at a slow pace that could be dragged out through 2023 and 2024, that is a major extra positive knowing that China is the single most important tourist spender in the world and it has not yet taken part in the travel recovery so far."

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