Massive surge in hospitality spending on Queen's Birthday weekend

Customer paying electronically at hotel.
Outside of the main centres, hospitality spend went up by 45 percent. Photo credit: Getty.

Spending on hospitality surged on Queen's Birthday weekend, latest Paymark figures show.

In the days leading up to the first long weekend under COVID-19 alert level 2, Paymark cards data shows that hospitality spending increased by 12 percent. Spending was particularly high outside the main centres, up 45 percent on the previous weekend of May 23 to 24. 

Given economic uncertainty and alert level 2 measures, the figures are much higher than expected.

"Hospitality growth in the regions is always likely on holiday weekends but the jump this year far exceeded the typical increase last year of around 13 percent in terms of transaction volumes," Paymark spokesperson Paul Brislen said.

During lockdown, from April 12 to April 26, overall retail spending was down by 56 to 58 percent compared to the previous year. 

By early-to-mid May, coinciding with the move to alert level 3, spending was down 40 percent.  

Upon moving to alert level 2 on May 15, spending across retail and non-retail (including hospitality and accommodation) jumped significantly, hovering around 1 percent below the same time last year. In the week to June 7, spending was 1.6 percent below 2019 and the average spend was $5 more ($46.80).

Despite the increase in hospitality spending over the long weekend and a lift in all spending from mid-May to early June, non-retail spending was down across the period.

"Not surprisingly, spending is still running well below year-ago levels amongst accommodation, cafes/bars and a wide range of non-retail merchants, such as travel agents, doctors, cinemas and education providers," Brislen said.

Under COVID-19 alert level 2, retail and non-retail spending was just 1 percent below the same time last year. With social distancing and single server restrictions now removed, there's room for that spending, particularly in the hospitality sector, to improve further.