Food, health and insurance costs have surged in recent years

New Zealanders have made significant changes to their spending habits, based on higher inflation, extreme weather events and the pandemic, according to new data from Stats NZ.

Between June 2019 and June 2023, spending increased in six of the 12 main expenditure groups monitored by Stats NZ:

  • Other expenditure (which includes savings and interest payments) = up 31.4%.
  • Food = up 28.1%.
  • Miscellaneous goods & services (which includes insurance, personal care and credit services) = up 21.6%.
  • Health = up 18.5%.
  • Housing & household utilities = up 15.5%.
  • Transport = up 16.5%.


Crucially, those six groups accounted for 82.2% of total household expenditure in the year to June 2023. Also, consumers tend to spend money on those groups no matter what is happening in the economy.


Kiwis spending more on food, less on recreation

Between 2019 and 2023, there were some significant changes in the share of expenditure that New Zealanders allocated to different groups.

For example, the proportion of household expenditure on food rose from 17.3% to 18.7%.

At the same time, there were decreases in the share of expenditure allocated to recreation & culture (from 9.6% to 8.3%), communication (from 2.9% to 2.5%) and education (1.4% to 1.2%).

Stats NZ Wealth & Poverty Statistics Senior Manager Victoria Treliving said consumer spending habits were sensitive to outside events.

“The increase in total household expenditure between 2019 and 2023 is a reflection of the increased cost of living experienced by New Zealanders, due to global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events,” she said.

“While households have spent more on essentials such as food and interest payments, we are also seeing more households prioritising personal contributions to their saving schemes.”



Published: 24/3/2024