• Hastings' economic activity up seven per cent, report estimates

Hastings' economic activity up seven per cent, report estimates

Latest Infometrics data on the health of the Hastings economy indicates the district has performed well in the year to June 2021, despite the impact of COVID-19, particularly through the second half of 2020.

In its recently released Economic Indicator report, Infometrics said the provisional estimate was that economic activity in Hastings grew seven per cent per annum in the June 2021 year, compared with 6.5
per cent per annum across the wider Hawke’s Bay region and 4.2 per cent per annum growth nationwide.

Consumer spending remained strong with the value of electronic card transactions in Hastings growing 14 per cent per annum in the June 2021 year.

“Both the economic activity and consumer spending results are abnormally strong because the previous year includes the lockdown-affected June 2020 quarter,’ the report said.

“But there’s no disguising the fact that Hastings recovered well from lockdown, with fruit prices, consumer spending and building work leading the way.”

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was heartening to confirm the district had recovered well from the previous lockdown, however, the further lockdown over the last month meant it was a stressful time for many.

“There’s no doubt that the most recent lockdown has been challenging for everyone, not least our businesses, but this report shows there’s reason to be optimistic about our ability to bounce back over
coming months.

“Overall, it seems many of our businesses have been able to use the experience of last year’s lockdown to prepare for the current situation, and those able to trade under Levels 3 and 2 have been very responsive and quick to provide services.

“I do encourage our residents to continue to support our local businesses by buying local if at all possible.”

As previously signalled by Hawke’s Bay Tourism, consumer spending was boosted by domestic tourism spending which hit $183m in the June 2021 year, compared with $139m the previous year and $145m the year before that.

Housing activity was also robust with residential consents growing 23 per cent per annum in the June 2021 year. Non-residential consents also remained at very high levels, growing 28 per cent per annum in the June 2021 year.

“The June 2021 quarter saw strong consent numbers for ‘office, administration, and public transport buildings’, ‘hostels, boarding houses, and prisons’ and ‘factories and industrial buildings’,” the report said.

The Hastings employment market was also doing well with construction, healthcare, food processing and the wholesale trade all gaining jobs in the past year.

The unemployment rate had dropped from a recent peak of five per cent in the December 2020 year to 4.6 per cent in the June 2021 year.

Mrs Hazlehurst said one of the biggest concerns at the moment was the severe shortage of skilled workers.

“We are working with our regional partners to come up with new initiatives to attract people into long term career pathways.”

There was a note of caution in the report that while international fruit prices remained strong, disruptions to international supply chains were creating concerns about growers’ access to refrigerated shipping
containers. There were also concerns about the potential impact of some ships bypassing New Zealand ports to stay on schedule.