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Spending in supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores across Christchurch doubled in the week before lockdown.
Statistics from ChristchurchNZ show that between March 16 and March 22, spending on food, pharmaceutical products and liquor increased by 53 per cent compared to the same period last year, total consumer spending increased by 12 per cent.
New Zealand wide supermarkets and dairies saw an increase spend of 59 per cent from the same week last year, and other food was also up, by 45 per cent.
ChristchurchNZ senior economist Peter Fieger said with an increase in demand for supermarket goods and increased input prices for suppliers due to pressure on logistics, there was a risk that prices for supermarket goods could rise.
Mr Fieger expected the 7300 people employed in supermarkets across Christchurch to increase in response to increased demand.
"Panic-buying has occurred following most major announcements by officials on coronavirus despite government assurances that supermarkets are deemed an essential service and won't encounter any supply issues - even at alert level four. This hasn't stopped people from taking to supermarkets in their droves leaving empty shelves in their wake.
"In the month of February 2020, we saw the beginning of the impact of increased buying activity as spend on groceries and liquor grew seven per cent to $160m when compared to the same month of the previous year. This is significantly greater than the two months previously which both only saw two per cent growth when compared to the same month of the previous year."