This year has changed everything - we've all been rethinking how we work, live and travel. And those changes in our behaviour are reflected in the ways we choose to spend our money. There have been some enormous shifts in the way we shop this year, so we thought we'd summarise the five biggest trends for consumers in 2020:

1. Embracing digital shopping

Across the globe, people have embraced ecommerce. Those who were once reluctant to shop online have given it a go and realised it's not too bad - in fact, it's excellent. What had been a slow-rolling snowball of ecommerce just got a huge push and is likely to keep picking up speed.

Online spending in New Zealand peaked at more than $200 million at the end of April, and remains 30% higher than at the same time last year, according to a report by NZ Post. And a whopping 170,000 Kiwis shopped online for the first time ever in the first half of 2020 - with the number of online shoppers aged 60-plus up by 62%.

2. Nesting

If lockdown taught us anything, it's that spending all your time in one place makes you want to improve that place. People have been buying furniture, spending money on DIY and renovating. The urge to have more space, or a better space, or just any space to call your own, has helped drive New Zealand's rampant late-2020 housing market. Renters have saved up for a deposit and become first home buyers, while homeowners have spent up large on lounge suites and home improvements.

3. Buying local

Last year most of us didn't give much thought to the global supply chain. It just functioned smoothly in the background, delivering our international products almost seamlessly. This year we realised exactly what happens when that supply chain is disrupted. There's been a mass movement toward buying locally - and it's helped our small businesses stay afloat.

Xero's small business data for September showed revenue up 3.4% year on year for small Kiwi businesses. Managing director Craig Hudson credits some of that growth to the buy local trend: "it appears people are taking the message of buying local to heart and really embracing local small business to help keep our economy thriving."

4. Trying new brands

As belts tightened, shoppers worldwide started looking for ways to save money. Brand loyalty fell by the wayside as consumers looked for value above all else. That trend has been exacerbated by online shopping, which removes the lure of a convenient usual store and makes it easy and impersonal to shop around.

McKinsey calls it the 'shock to loyalty', with high rates of consumers across the globe reporting they have tried new shopping behaviours during 2020. A majority of those shoppers (around 65%) say they intend to continue with their new-found brands and services.

5. Self-care and self-indulgence

Kiwis bought more fruit and vegetables this year and cooked more at home. But we also bought more beer and gambled more than ever. We wanted to take care of ourselves - and also thought we deserved a treat in such a stressful time.

"Spending on fresh fruit and veg has soared", Kiwibank reports. "But even as restaurants have reopened, we still can't get enough of our greens. A change for good. But there was also a change for the worse. Spending on alcohol and gambling looks like an unwanted hangover."

Many of these trends are here to stay

Kiwi business owners should be planning on all these trends continuing strongly until our borders reopen. Once we can travel freely again, which may take many months, some may fall by the wayside - most likely nesting and self-care/self-indulgence. Buying local may also decline somewhat once supply chains are operating at full steam. But expect to see continuing strong growth for ecommerce and reduced brand loyalty as more of us choose to shop online and hunt for a bargain.

Follow spending trends, week by week

You can keep on top of consumer spending trends, with the Paymark Consumer Spend Trends dashboard. Built with insights from TRA, it gathers daily transaction data from across our network to show you shopping trends across New Zealand.