COVID-19 consumer impacts study reports

This study followed a group of over 1,000 adult New Zealanders from March 2021 to March 2022 to track changes in consumer concerns, attitudes and experiences.

About the series

Early in 2021 we surveyed around 1,700 adult New Zealanders to provide a benchmark of consumer concerns, experiences, and behaviours and how these had been impacted from COVID-19 (wave 1).

For additional survey waves, the same group of New Zealanders were recontacted every 6-months to enable us to track changes over time and compare anticipated with actual change (waves 2-3).

Changes to the survey in Wave 4

This survey series was intended to be conducted over 5 rounds, with one survey every 6 months for 2 years. However, by round 3, results from all rounds consistently reiterated that COVID-19 has brought more rapid than usual changes in circumstances to consumers and is exacerbating pain points such as the cost of living and concerns about the economy. It was decided to end the series at round 3 and put more focus on consumer issues such as purchasing, transacting confidently, and consumer concerns in line with Consumer Services work programme this financial year.

Summary of Wave four

Total responses 883, response rate of 55%

Fieldwork dates:

  • Start date: 20th September 2022
  • End date: 18th October 2022

Key findings

  • 83% of respondents had taken some action to resolve their problem. The most common action is contacting the seller.
  • The perception that the problem is not worth the effort (e.g., a low value product) was the most reported reason for inaction.
  • In seeking a resolution, around half looked for advice or information, with the seller/service provider the most used source. Advice was also commonly sought from family and friends, especially by young people.
  • Of the 5 information sources prompted on, Consumer NZ (79%) and Consumer Protection (76%) were considered most useful. 17% felt that the seller was not a useful information source.
  • Just over half of faulty good/service problems had been resolved to the respondent’s satisfaction; 18% remained unresolved, with overseas retailers over-represented in this group.
  • 81% reported that their faulty good/service problem had had some impact on their everyday life, including 12% who reported a significant impact. Those with problems with internet/streaming services were over-represented among those reporting a significant impact.
  • When asked what could be done to make it easier to resolve problems with faulty goods/services, consumer self-improvements were most mentioned, including seeking advice/information around their rights as consumers, keeping receipts, being more proactive about returning faulty products and being more assertive with sellers. Pasifika respondents were over-represented among this group.
  • 1 in 5 respondents report working more hours than they want/need (21%) than 6 months ago. Only 14% now report working fewer hours than they want/need, down from 24% in Round 3.
  • Motivated by a desire for more income and/or more challenging work, a third of those currently working are considering changing jobs in the next 6 months.
  • Overall, personal incomes have increased from Round 3, 33% having experienced an increase and 16% a decline, a net change of +17 percentage points, stable from +16 in Round 3.
  • With 31% reporting an increase and 17% experiencing a decrease, the net change in household income is positive (+14, compared with -1 in Round 3).
  • The impact of COVID-19 on both personal and household income changes continues to decline. Where COVID-19 is reported to have had an impact on income, this impact is significantly more likely to have resulted in a decrease. Among those who reported an increase in personal income, only 14% attributed this to COVID; in contrast, 53% of all declines in personal income over the last 6 months were attributed to the pandemic.

Waves 1 - 3

Infographic displaying the results of the Consumer Impacts Study Wave 3
Infographic displaying the results of the Consumer Impacts Study Wave 2
Infographic displaying the results of the Consumer Impacts Study Wave 1
Last updated: 16 March 2023