Kiwis have spent less on dining out over the busy summer holiday period, with January’s hospitality figures down 1.4% since the same period last year.
Data from payment provider Worldline NZ showed consumer spending through all core retailers excluding hospitality showed a “modest” overall rise, reaching $3.07b in it’s payments network during January 2024, up 3.9% on the same period last year.
Meanwhile, consumer spending through hospitality merchants in Worldline’s network reached $1.02b in January 2024, which is down 1.4% on January 2023.
Worldline chief sales officer Bruce Proffit said December 2023 marked the traditional peak in spending, but hospitality spending through the network was down 0.1% on year-ago levels in December and has now continued to trend down again in January.
“While the spending through Core Retail stores is better than the 0.4% annual growth rate reported for December 2023, it remains a very modest increase when considered alongside the trading disruptions that occurred in January 2023 and ongoing higher consumer prices,” he said.
Proffit said the lower January 2024 hospitality spending occurred despite the disruption to trading activity that was caused by extreme weather events in late January 2023 – and that both summer months are down despite more visitors coming to New Zealand over this time.
“Some regions – Wellington, Marlborough and Otago – are even experiencing spending that is below the pre-Covid levels of January 2019, while spending growth in the South Island merchants remains lower than in the North Island,” he said.
Spending at hospitality merchants across Worldline NZ’s network was 9.3% above January 2019 in the North Island but up only 3.8% in the South Island.
Reports of ‘mixed trading’ across the country
Restaurant Association of New Zealand’s Chief Executive Marisa Bidois told 1News the spending figures are “in line” with many of the feedback and experiences reported by businesses across the country in the last month.
“We have definitely seen mixed trading across the country. But what is positive is we’re seeing an increase in the optimism from businesses, there outlook is a little bit more positive than it has been in previous years,” she said.
She said the figures follow “really difficult years” of trading for the sector which saw core costs in the business rise, citing oil costs in 2022 and food costs in 2023 as some of the more “significant” pressures.
Bidois said the cost of living has also heavily impacted Kiwis ability to spend big in the hospitality sector.
“Some of the feedback we’ve heard is that people are still heading out, but they’re choosing to maybe not spend as much. Not having that second glass of wine,” she said.
She said this trend is not reflected everywhere across the country however, with some reports of businesses doing better than they’d done across the last few summers but “overall it still has been challenging trading”.
She said the association is “really pleased” to see tourist numbers increasing, despite the spending figures not being as high as hoped for.
“Most of our tourists who come to visit New Zealand will be dining out for at least a couple of those meals a day, generally speaking, so it’s a really positive thing for our industry”.