The Rugby World Cup is having an impact, but not as much as some might have hoped.
There is one nationwide trend, namely a relative lull in hospitality spending during the Saturday evening game. Bars and cafes are still busy on a Saturday night, but any growth is coming before or after the game. There is also a general increase in vehicle rental, but these rentals typically come out of the major centres.
As for the regions, a graph of spending through the Paymark network shows clear spikes in activity at hospitality and accommodation merchants around the day of the game.
Otherwise, there is little to suggest a wider flow-on effect to the wider economy. In fact, spending growth beyond vehicle rentals, hospitality and accommodation has slowed.
Looking at the wider picture, there was a pickup in spending before the RWC, evident in August amongst sectors such as tyres, auto repairs, appliances and sporting goods, but this surge has not carried through to September.
The annual growth rate is now running higher in building stores and outlets typically linked to discretionary spending but average growth remains low.
Food and fuel prices are no longer rising sharply, although households are still adjusting to the high prices.
So the World Cup might be pulsating, both as a spectacle and for local hospitality and accommodation providers, but the spending patterns remain indicative of tough times being experienced by households and merchants alike in the wider economy.
Anthony Byett is an economist who consults to Paymark, New Zealand’s largest Eftpos provider.
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