New Zealand consumers tend to spend more money between noon and 1pm than any other time of the day.
That’s just one of the findings from an intriguing trawl through five years of consumer spending by paytech experts Worldline NZ – the people who brought you the EFTPOS system and who say businesses can glean a lot from looking at long-term data.
“In-depth analysis of trends over long periods of time can be extremely informative for business planning,” says Bruce Proffit, Chief Sales Officer. “In other words, if you can see where you’ve been, you can better prepare for where to go next.”
A closer analysis of five years of consumer spending patterns through Worldline NZ’s payments network reveals some interesting things, he says: “It’s been a turbulent half decade in New Zealand with the Covid-19 pandemic playing havoc with our usual spending patterns because of lockdowns – but this wasn’t the only factor. Spending patterns differ for many reasons.”
“Obviously, we spend more at different times of the day and different days of the year. For example, we tend to spend more between noon and 1pm than between, say, 10-11am. We also consistently spend more on a Saturday than a Monday. However, even this simple pattern varies by store type.”
Clothing stores have a long history of peak selling on Saturday afternoons, while in bookstores this occurs late morning Saturday. Liquor stores tend to peak near 5pm on Fridays, and restaurants/cafés near midday Sunday.
Then there’s Christmas. Consumer spending tends to peak around 3-4 weeks before Christmas Day at appliance stores, around one week before Christmas amongst hospitality providers, and a frenzy within many sectors right up to lunch-time on Christmas Eve.
Overlaying these time-of-day and seasonal effects are several, slower patterns, he says.
“The pandemic has clearly been a major influencing factor over the last five years. It led to a significant drop in spending in the hospitality sector, and we’re still seeing the ongoing effects of this. Accommodation spending, for example, has still not returned to pre-Covid levels. However, spending at food and liquor merchants has remained consistent.”
Interest rates and inflation are interrelating factors that have impacted consumer spending over the last five years. Some insights can also be revealed about the general state of business today by looking at variations in one simple measure – average transaction size.
In an economy that is being impacted by inflation, average transaction size data can tell quite a story about what consumer spending priorities have been, and where they may persist or reduce” Proffit says.
“A generally higher average transaction figure year-on-year is to be expected, given that inflation over the last five years has been 20 per cent, but there is a wide range of patterns that can be seen amongst merchants in different retail sectors.”
Big ticket items
Over the last five years, retailers who sell so-called ‘big ticket’ items – such as electronics, furniture, sports equipment, marine equipment, jewellery, and floor coverings – have seen average transaction sizes lower than the average price change. More recently, there has been a noticeable drop in the average transaction size which, together with only modest volume growth, indicates there has been lower spending overall. Clearly, in tough times, consumer decision-making about big ticket items is much more careful as budgets are stretched.
With the average transaction value at liquor merchants sitting at around the average price increase, it appears liquor merchants have been relatively unaffected by inflation in terms of its impact on overall sales value (that is, the volume of transactions are up, and hence, so too is the value of the spending.) This suggests that even though inflation may have had an impact, consumers are willing to swallow some higher prices if it still means getting their hands on their favourite tipple.
In contrast to liquor, the clothing sector has seen average transaction size increasing faster than the average price of clothing. This could suggest that in tough times, consumers have shifted their spending patterns by seeking out cheaper items at larger general stores or online clothing outlets, as clothing retailers have experienced lower transaction volumes.
“Of course, simply relying on national averages to assess relative performance can easily lead to wrong conclusions,” he says.
“Spending patterns can differ significantly between regions and deeper digging is required to find patterns relevant to each business. This is why having access to data that is unique to your individual business situation is vital – and something that Worldline can help you with.
“With over 1.4 billion transactions going through our network each year, representing a significant portion of all electronic transactions, we are capturing an almost universal view of the value, time and location of spending in New Zealand – which can tell a very powerful story about consumers and their behaviour.”
By looking back at data trends, businesses can better understand how they can build resilience for the unexpected, Proffit says.
“Trying to plot a course for the future without looking where you’ve been is a formula for failure. In other words, without data to inform your decision making, you’re flying blind”.
Worldline NZ has more data and insights for Kiwi businesses that can help provide valuable insights to help grow your business.