Construction sales rise by almost $900 million in December quarter

Construction sales reached $19.6 billion in the December 2020 quarter, up $897 million (4.8 percent) from the December 2019 quarter, in part driven by home building, Stats NZ said today.

This followed a $1.6 billion (8.9 percent) year-on-year increase for the September 2020 quarter.

“After a low June 2020 quarter because of the COVID-19 national lockdown, construction sales rebounded in September and continued to grow in the December 2020 quarter,” business statistics manager Sue Chapman said.

Most of the growth in construction sales in the December 2020 quarter was driven by home building and construction services, which includes land development and trades such as plumbing, electrical, and carpentry.

See Commercial construction slows, residential holds up for more information on construction work in the December 2020 quarter.

Year 2018 2019 2020
March quarter 14111011000 15357359000 16964326000
June quarter 16480010000 17623099000 13626094000
September quarter 16459025000 17769074000 19354600000
December quarter 16806615000 18744633000 19641460000

When comparing the full 2020 calendar year, construction sales were $69.6 billion, up 0.1 percent from $69.5 billion in 2019.

“Construction sales held up over 2020, despite the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and changing alert levels during the year,” Ms Chapman said.

Healthcare and other medical services continue to rise

Healthcare and other medical services were up $408 million (9.8 percent) in the December 2020 quarter, when compared with the December 2019 quarter.

This followed a $685 million (17 percent) rise in September 2020 from the September 2019 quarter.

Quarter Actual sales value ($)
Dec-17 3423368000
Mar-18 3371821000
Jun-18 3510303000
Sep-18 3730534000
Dec-18 3756251000
Mar-19 3650845000
Jun-19 3822281000
Sep-19 4088925000
Dec-19 4154182000
Mar-20 3982186000
Jun-20 3938737000
Sep-20 4773693000
Dec-20 4562150000

Healthcare services were one of the few industries that saw increased sales in the COVID-impacted June 2020 quarter, when compared with June 2019 quarter. Many healthcare businesses remained open in the June quarter because they are classed as essential services.

This industry includes private hospitals and medical services, health services such as dental and physiotherapy, and residential care services. It excludes public hospitals, district health boards and other government-funded health organisations.

Transport and travel drop

Transport, postal, and warehousing had the largest industry sales fall in the December 2020 quarter, down $1.6 billion (18 percent) from December 2019. This followed a similar $1.6 billion (20 percent) fall in September 2020 from September 2019.

The largest portion of the sales drop comes from the air transport sub-industry, which includes passenger flights and air-freight transportation.

“International air travel to and from New Zealand all but halted after COVID-19 travel restrictions came into place in March 2020,” Ms Chapman said.

“The impact of border restrictions on the transport industry has continued into the December quarter.”

Industry “Transport postal and warehousing” Administrative and support services
Dec-19 8710524000 4640222000
Mar-20 7937651000 4098939000
Jun-20 5548719000 3359765000
Sep-20 6523507000 3639329000
Dec-20 7107320000 3477116000

The second-largest sales fall was in the administrative and support services industry, down $1.2 billion (25 percent) from December 2019.

The sub-industry driving this fall was travel agency and tour arrangement services.

“International tourism has taken a major hit, with lower levels of spending since the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020,” Ms Chapman said.

“Travel and tour companies have seen sales fall sharply as a result. Travel agents are not so heavily involved with domestic travel.”

Retail trade

The largest industry increase for December was in retail trade, up $1.5 billion (6.8 percent) from December 2019. This excludes businesses involved hospitality, which are usually combined in the retail trade survey.

“People spent less on international travel in 2020 because of COVID-19. This surplus may have been directed towards household goods like furniture and appliances, or cars,” Ms Chapman said.

Retail sales hold up in the December quarter has more details on the sales of household and personal goods and services for the December quarter.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.