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Buller’s economy remains resilient

17 Nov 2022

Buller District’s economy has held up over the quarter ending September 2022 according to a report released this week.

The Buller District’s GDP grew 2.1% in the year to September 2022, compared with an increase of 2.6% nationally and 3.4% across the West Coast Region.

Buller’s housing market is bucking the national trend with house prices rising in Buller despite falling nationwide. The average current house value in Buller District was up 10.7% in September 2022, compared to a year earlier. House prices dropped in New Zealand by 2% and increased by 6.4% in the West Coast region.

This places the average current house value around $315,119 in Buller compared to the national average of $964,202.

In contrast, house sales in Buller fell by 48% in the 12 months prior to September 2022 compared to a year earlier. This matches the national trend of a decrease of 25.6% in New Zealand and 37.2% on the West Coast.

Buller District Council Mayor Jamie Cleine says overall the report paints an encouraging picture for Buller as we navigate the forecasted challenging times ahead for the New Zealand economy in 2023.

“The report shows that our local economic indicators are mainly positive and, in some areas, have outperformed the national trend. Our district’s key industries have been holding up over the quarter to September 2022, helping our local economy remain resilient.

However, the report also shows that we are not immune to the difficult economic climate that will take its toll on consumers budgets in 2023.”

Electronic card spending in Buller rose 4.8% in the year to September 2022, but this increase is mainly driven by higher inflation in New Zealand.

Mr Cleine says: “The national inflation rate of 7.2% for the year to September 2022, is on par with the increase in consumer spending of 7% in New Zealand. Essentially the inflationary pressure outweighed consumer spending and this trend is expected to continue.”

A sharp fall in car and commercial vehicle registrations also point to consumers and businesses putting off major purchases as they face rising food, fuel, and energy prices.

The report states that total tourism expenditure in the Buller District fell by 6.4% in the last year, but guests’ nights increased by 2.9%. In particular, domestic guest nights continued to perform well with international guest nights also starting to come back.

Mr Cleine says: “We have done well to grow our share of the domestic market, and now that borders are open, we will see increases in international tourists choosing to visit and enjoy the environment and activities our district offers.”

The number of residential building consents were up 33% compared with the same 12 month period a year before, showing that the building of new homes continues to be strong. This growth fits into the regional increase of 42.8% on the West Coast and the national increase of 7%.

Mr Cleine says: “Buller has seen an incredibly strong residential housing boom over the last three quarters and even the district’s non-residential consents remain high despite falling 23% in the September 2022 year.”

Employment in Buller grew by 2.4% in the year to September 2022, which reduced the unemployment rate to 4.3% for the September 2022 year. The increase in jobs were across a wide range of industries with the construction sector growing strongest providing additional employment for Buller’s residents.

Mr Cleine says: “It is great to see that our industries and initiatives such as the Mayors Taskforce For Jobs are growing over a number of sectors and are creating employment.”

Mr Cleine says to put the figures in context.

“The report compares this year’s numbers with the September 2021 quarter when the Delta lockdown hit New Zealand.

We can see this especially looking at the GDP data with areas like Auckland recording strong growth now due to these figures comparing against to the previous year when the Covid Delta lockdown had impacted numbers.”

Rural areas like Buller are recording slower GDP growth in this most recent economic update due to their stronger results a year earlier during the Delta lockdown when these districts were not as adversely affected as the urban centres.

The solid GDP growth over the last quarter points to a strongly growing national economy but also emphasises the issue of inflation and the looming decrease in consumer spending in 2023 as inflation will impact household budgets.

Mr Cleine says: “So far, our district has done really well navigating the last three quarters and the latest economic figures indicate the district is in a good position. We will see what 2023 brings, however we are likely to share in the negative impact that persistently high inflation and increasing interest rates are likely to have.”

The Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor publishes regular reports about local economies for the quarters ending March, June, September, and December.


For more information please contact:
Mayor Jamie Cleine
Buller District Council