Wellington bar owner 'gobsmacked and gutted' he can't reopen immediately under alert level 2

Retail card spending halved during the lockdown and hospitality was down by more than $700 million.

While a lot of the economy is able to open up under alert level 2 from Thursday, bars have been dealt another tough blow.

The owner of Wellington bar Panhead says he's "gobsmacked and gutted" they can't reopen this week.

"We've got no help from the Government whatsoever and it just makes our life really, really hard. Just think, it's really unfair we're the forgotten industry," Matt McLaughlin says.

Card spending figures released on Monday confirm the lockdown absolutely smashed the hospitality sector.

In January we wined and dined to the tune of $900 million, it levelled off in February once we were all back at work, and when COVID-19 hit in March we only spent $600 million. And during the April lockdown there was a near-total dropoff in spending - just $43 million.

Wellington restaurateur Mike Egan is preparing Monsoon Poon for a grand reopening for level 2.

"I'm really excited. It's like opening a restaurant for the first time again," he says.

"It takes a couple days, it's not like you can just come in half an hour before service. So the chefs are cooking stocks and making sauces, and we've got to make sure the suppliers have got products for us."

But he also felt the huge dropoff in monthly spending at restaurants during lockdown.

"We all guessed that because we can look at our own figures - it's just horrible to see it in black and white."

Another black and white consequence is job cuts. Auckland's SkyCity proposed on Monday there would be 700 more redundancies.

Table games supervisor at the casino Tina Barnet says the first thought she had if she lost her job was how she'd be able to live in Auckland now.

"I think I would be one of those who'd be forced into homelessness, living in my car. I don't want to think about it," she says.

Barnet's been with the company for 16 years and says she feels like she's now been "chucked on the heap".

Now all eyes are on Thursday's Budget to see what the Government will do to restock Kiwis' wallets so they can get out there and spend.