Big Coast Big Deals billboard

West Coast retailers bounce back.


Recently released data shows retail spending on the West Coast is bouncing back at a higher rate than the New Zealand average.

Estimates from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), based on electronic card spending data from Marketview/Paymark, show overall spending on the West Coast is currently 108% of last year’s levels. In comparison, national retail spending is at exactly the same level it was last year.

Development West Coast (DWC) chief executive Heath Milne says: “the COVID-19 crisis has been an incredibly challenging time for our business community, so it is great to see retail spending bouncing back.”

During the Alert Level 4 lockdown, electronic card spending on the Coast was down to around 50% of last year’s levels, rising to approximately 75% during Level 3.

Milne says industries on the Coast have experienced the impact of COVID-19 in vastly different ways.

Food & Liquor spending peaked at over 150% as people stockpiled goods prior to lockdown and since then has mostly remained above last year’s levels.

Since Level 2, there has been a spike in spending on Clothing, Footwear and Department Stores and Home & Recreational Retailing. These have all experienced spending rates around 200%.

The shift to Level 2 is also seeing a recovery, albeit slower, in spending on Food & Beverage services, which currently sits at 80% of last year’s rates.

West Coast industries most dependent on Tourism (Accommodation, Arts & Recreation services, and Transport & Travel agencies) have been struggling though, with spending less than 50% of last year’s levels. However, subsequent data shows a significant spike over Queen’s birthday weekend.

“The Tourism industry on the Coast has been highly reliant on international visitors, who inject around $271m into our economy each year. That is around 54% of our total tourism spend – the highest rate of all regions in NZ,” says Milne.

“The recovery in retail spending we’re currently experiencing is largely from domestic spending, such as Coasters catching up on shopping and Kiwis starting to travel domestically again after being cooped up under lockdown.”

The MBIE data shows domestic retail spending on the West Coast currently sits at 114% of last year’s levels, while international spending is only 31% of what it was this time last year.

“Given the uncertainty of when New Zealand’s borders will reopen, international spending is unlikely to recover any time soon.”

West Coast benefits most from Queen’s Birthday.

“To attract more domestic visitors to the Coast we’ve been running a number of targeted marketing initiatives. Our ‘Big Coast – Big Deals’ campaign got off to a great start, with the West Coast outperforming the rest of New Zealand over Queen’s birthday weekend,” Milne said.

Figures from a recent report compiled by Tourism New Zealand and Stats NZ’s Data Ventures revealed domestic tourism across New Zealand increased by 75% over Queen’s Birthday, relative to average tourism at COVID-19 Level 2.

The West Coast enjoyed the biggest boost, with domestic visitor numbers increasing 94.3%. The West Coast was followed by Fiordland, up 84.6%, and Mackenzie, up 83.8%.

DWC regional tourism manager Jim Little said much of the increase on the West Coast was due to a combination of good weather, a long weekend and deal-based advertising targeted at Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.

“The Big Coast – Big Deals campaign utilised digital billboards, press advertising and digital/social media driving customers to the ‘deals’ page on the website which saw a huge spike in site visitation,” Little said.