Financial stability concerns

Research made halfway through the lockdown shows seven out of 10 Kiwis are supportive of the Government’s approach to managing the pandemic, but over half are now not confident in their future financial stability, a figure that has remained unchanged prior to the lockdown.

The two-stage study, commissioned by NZ research firm Penrose Data, compared consumer attitudes before and after the first week of Level 4 lockdown. Over 1000 New Zealanders were surveyed using a two-stage online survey methodology that compared consumer attitudes prior to the lockdown (March 21) and after the completion of the first week (March 27).

Research found consumers’ optimism that the crisis would improve increased significantly from 14 percent to 32 percent after the lockdown began but, as a result of financial uncertainty, more than 90 percent of consumers says they will put off making at least one major purchase, with the figure highest for recreation/sports products or computers (34 percent) and vehicles or property (33 percent). A tenth (nine percent of those surveyed) said it won’t impact their major purchases.

Geoff Walmsley, a New Zealand research expert from Kiwi company Penrose Data, who was caught up in the Netherlands lockdown, saw a number of parallels between the two markets and initiated the study to support Kiwi businesses.

Walmsley says the company specialises in providing research insights for Kiwi FMCG exporters, but recognises it is often the SME’s who are most in need of information at this time.

“The Netherlands is currently in its fourth week of nationwide lockdown in response to the crisis – where the curve is just starting to flatten off.

“The lead time ahead of the New Zealand market gave us a better understanding of the challenges that would be faced for consumers and companies alike and allowed us to measure attitudinal shifts as the Level 4 changes were implemented.

“We believe that access to timely information can help businesses better navigate the challenges ahead and we will be providing weekly insights throughout the lockdown period.”

Walmsley says despite the dip in consumer confidence locally, key export markets such as China have reopened and demand for New Zealand products will support our economic recovery.

The research also found that Kiwis had improved access to basic food after the lockdown, particularly for items like bread with more than a third (35%) of respondents having trouble buying bread, compared to just a fifth (20%) after the lockdown began.

Similarly, one in three (35%) Kiwis had limited access to cleaning products before the lockdown with this dropping to a quarter (24%) at the end of the first week. Access to fruit and vegetables declined however with a seventh of those surveyed encountering restrictions of these goods.

Those who reported struggling with access to basic staples were more likely to have a negative view of the Government’s response to the crisis.

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