GDP rises in the June 2021 quarter

Retail trade and accommodation was the largest contributor to GDP growth in the June 2021 quarter. File photo.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.8 per cent in the June 2021 quarter, following a 1.4 per cent increase in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ says this week.

June 2021 quarter GDP was 4.3 per cent higher when compared with the December 2019 quarter, the quarter immediately before New Zealand’s first Covid-19 cases and the introduction of associated restrictions.

The 2.8 per cent rise in June 2021 quarter GDP was led by the services industries. The primary and goods-producing industries also contributed to growth in the quarter.

Retail trade and accommodation was the largest contributor to GDP growth in the June 2021 quarter, driven by higher activity in accommodation and food services.

The transport, postal, and warehousing industry was boosted by rises in air transport and transport support services. This industry has been significantly affected by restrictions on international travel in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as continued disruptions to the international transport of goods.

Despite the increase in activity this quarter, transport, postal, and warehousing has fallen 7.0 per cent since the pre-Covid -19 December 2019 quarter.

Business services also contributed to the growth in services and total GDP in the June 2021 quarter, rising by 4.8 per cent due to higher activity in engineering, architectural and consulting services.

Exports of services also increased in the June 2021 quarter, rising by 63.0 per cent. This was driven by rises in exports of travel services, transport services, other business services, and also film exports.

However, exports of services remain significantly affected by international travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and are still 43.0 per cent below the levels of the December 2019 quarter. 

“The June 2021 quarter experienced fewer Covid-19 restrictions than previous quarters affected by Covid-19. Many industries experienced activity at or above pre-Covid-19 levels, while some remained below,” says national accounts senior manager Paul Pascoe.

Most of New Zealand was in alert level 1 for the entire June 2021 quarter, apart from Wellington, which spent 6 days in alert level 2 at the end of June.

"Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the June quarter traditionally showed a large decrease in international travel related activity, following the peak summer season in the March quarter.

“However, Covid-19 has interrupted that seasonal pattern markedly.”

Covid-19 restrictions have caused significant changes to typical patterns of activity, with international travel and related expenditure currently at very low levels and not showing the normal large decline from the March quarter peaks.

This has muted overall GDP growth in the March 2021 quarter, and contributed to growth in the June 2021 quarter, when we account for the usual seasonal effects.

“Opening the trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia in the June 2021 quarter also contributed to services industries with links to tourism, such as retail and accommodation, and transport,” says Pascoe.

Household consumption expenditure fell 1.4 per cent in the June 2021 quarter, due to a 1.9 per cent decline in household spending on services. 

This was partly offset by increases in spending on durable goods (such as electronics and furniture), which were similarly reflected in growth in the retail trade subindustry (up 2.6 per cent).

When compared with the pre-Covid-19 December 2019 quarter, household spending increased by 6.0 per cent with spending on durable goods 19.7 per cent higher.

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