Illustration: Toby Morris
Illustration: Toby Morris

OPINIONMoneyMarch 21, 2020

Covid-19: How to keep New Zealanders in jobs? Buy local

Illustration: Toby Morris
Illustration: Toby Morris

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on New Zealand’s economy, shopping with local businesses has become more important than ever. Ryan Jennings from Buy New Zealand Made explains why that is and makes a couple of suggestions on where you can spend your dime. 

The government’s unveiling of a $12.1 billion Covid-19 relief package this week was a breakthrough for business. This rescue plan will save businesses and their employees in the face of significant economic uncertainty.

Consumers also have a considerable role to play. Kiwis should be helping other Kiwis by shopping locally where it makes sense.

As New Zealanders spend more time at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19, businesses and employees that rely on normal routines and spending patterns will be disrupted. That’s why consumers should support one of the more than 1,200 New Zealand manufacturers who use the Kiwi trademark to differentiate their products and services in New Zealand.

With 85% of Air New Zealand’s international capacity cut, there’s going to be a domestic focus on activities over winter. So rather than shopping online at overseas retailers and facing lengthy delivery delays, check out what local businesses have to offer. Make a point of buying from fellow Kiwis – it’s not just for the good feeling. 

Advice for consumers

By buying New Zealand Made products online you can help keep Kiwis in jobs during this time of crisis. Here are just 10 suggestions:

Keep your kids busy with…

Struan Toys: Quality wooden toys made from renewable New Zealand pine.

Keep your house clean with…

Wendyl’s Green Goddess: Laundry, cleaning and body products that are natural, eco-friendly, non-toxic, and sustainable.

Enjoy the late summer with…

Gourmet Direct: Delivering gourmet barbecue meat to your door, like these premium rose veal cuts.

Learn a new sport in your backyard with…

RPM Discs: Try disc golf, a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target using rules similar to golf

Get some better snacks for those Netflix binges with…

Mushroom House: Providing high-quality mushroom products, like crispy oyster mushroom chips.

Keep yourself fresh in close living quarters with…

Raw Nature: Upgrade your deodorant and go aluminium free at the same time

Replace that rusted clothesline with…

Stainless Clotheslines: Strong and sturdy clotheslines perfect for coastal locations. Easily lowered by pushing one button on each side.

Get a timber built shed with…

EcoSheds: Rustic-style kit-sets delivered to create that space you’ve always wanted.

Escaping to your boat? Make sure that hatch is secure with…

Cule Marine hatches: Made of premium, marine-grade materials with innovative design

Sort through your wardrobe and decide on a new dress from…

White Chalk: With the added bonus of free shipping over $90.

Advice for businesses

As a business owner who has felt a downturn of 30% or more, you can access the wage subsidies available to your team to keep them employed ($585.80 per full-time employee. $350 per part-time employee). Don’t dismiss these as government handouts, and decide that you’ll battle on through. These are unprecedented times and you must keep the cash flowing too.

Seventy percent of businesses licensed to use the New Zealand Made kiwi trademark have fewer than 20 employees: these are exactly the types of businesses that the rescue package is designed for. There’s up to a $150,000 lump sum available – take it if you need it. You’ll get this within five days of applying on the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) website.

Give yourself a 12-week window before making longer-term decisions. Events are evolving at exponential speed so keep adjusting. And for all businesses, spend on the purchases you were going to make anyway. Claim back $5,000 as a tax expense (up from $1,000) for the 2020/2021 year.

Rather than shopping online at overseas retailers and facing lengthy delivery delays, check out what local businesses have to offer (Photo: Getty)

Over a third of New Zealand Made businesses have been in business for over a decade. We got through the GFC. We’ll get through this. We’re good traders, so dust off those plans.

It’s important that you continue to market your goods and services, prepare your staff for the coming months and don’t be afraid. New Zealand is a high-trust environment. 

The government has allocated a massive $500 million to ensure the health response is geared up. As a business owner, your job is to ensure you minimise the risk to your employees. Take a health and safety approach to this and encourage social distancing, make working from home the default, and use enhanced cleaning procedures on high touchpoints like handles. We might be able to avoid the fate of Europe if we all do our bit.

Keep going!