Nelson Tasman faring better than most in the latest Quarterly Economic Monitor (QEM) for December 2020 but still in a fragile position

Written by Charlotte Lang

Posted on Wednesday 3 March 2021

The latest economic figures released by Infometrics for the last quarter of 2020 show that Nelson Tasman continues to fare better than expected in many areas, although the full effects of the nationwide lock down, border closure and ongoing pandemic challenges are yet to be realised in the data.

Like other regions with a strong international tourism focus Nelson Tasman remains in a difficult economic position, with the full effect of COVID-19 on tourism expected to be felt in the first quarter of 2021, post the peak season.

The average unemployment rate for the year in Nelson Tasman remains low (3.1% compared to 4.6% nationally), and the labour market remains tight. The full effect of the Covid-19 support payments finishing is now being seen with the number of jobseekers 36% higher than the average for the year to December 2019.

Housing continues to dominate the regional picture, with house prices increasing by 8.6% over the year to December 2020, but actual house sales increased by only 1% compared to a 9.3% increase nationally. These two factors combined point to an increasingly short supply of homes available for purchase. With December quarter consents down a fraction on December 2019, and the whole year figure down 1.1%.

Although the December 2020 quarter slowed somewhat compared to the surprisingly sound September quarter, GDP was down only 1.1% compared to December 2019. Consumer spending was 1.7% higher than the December 2019 quarter, and spending for the whole year to December 2020 was only 0.7% lower than in 2019 (compared to a 3.2% decline nationally).

"We know many businesses are doing it tough - the region is missing the international visitor spend that we have traditionally relied on and there is ongoing uncertainty around alert levels which is putting huge pressure on many in our community. Our economy continues to be very vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 and the global recovery will be long and uneven” says Toni Power, acting CE of Nelson Regional Development, “It's essential we remain focused on our economic recovery and don't lose sight of the hardship that is occurring throughout our community, despite some great success stories and reasons to feel optimistic."

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About Nelson Regional Development Agency
The Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) exists to make a difference to the future prosperity of the Nelson Tasman region through positioning, connecting and promoting the region, with a current focus on the recovery and regeneration from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Everything NRDA does is guided by the five pillars of the Nelson Tasman identity and is built on a strong platform of collaboration and partnership with the public and private sectors to achieve alignment, build stakeholder engagement, and drive NRDA’s role in execution.

All NRDA’s activities are currently focused on leading the collaborative implementation of the region’s economic response and regeneration plan to the COVID-19 pandemic, known as Project Kōkiri, and its seven-point action plan, while enhancing the strategic focus of the medium to longer term economic development regeneration of the region, which is guided by the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy.

About Project Kōkiri
Project Kōkiri is the Nelson Tasman economic development collaboration setup to navigate and mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s an action and insights orientated taskforce backed by Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council, Mana Whenua, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce, Nelson Regional Development Agency and the regionally based government agencies. The collaboration was formed during lockdown and developed the Nelson Tasman Economic Response & Regeneration Action Plan which was released in June 2020.

That plan focused on the response pathway for the region in navigating the immediate challenges that COVID-19 presented and ensuring our region was ‘match fit’ for the economic headwinds that the country is facing. The defining purpose of the collaboration was to ensure that the region had a well organised and coordinated response across all agencies and stakeholders that could compliment the health and social responses being undertaken.