Like any good journalism nerd I watched the Budget yesterday on Parliament TV.
I like Grant Robertson, he’s a good speaker, he talks to you, not at you, or down to you.
He sounds like he means what he says too.
As he laid out the state of our economy, I wondered how many people would be chastened by these times, how many would be keeping their wallets shut, taking seriously this ‘rainy day’ and tough winter the government’s talking about.
I didn’t have to wonder long, as I had to go to the mall – reluctantly – to take something of my daughter’s for repair. I was hoping it’d be quiet, I've become accustomed to our new normal of quiet and slow, and it was quite confronting actually being out in a shopping environment and seeing so many people.
And I mean lots of people.
And they were all carrying shopping bags.
There were some stores with queues outside them.
Never a more stark contrast than watching the budget and hearing the desperate fiscal state we’re in.. then seeing swathes of people out spending up a storm.
The shop I had to go into had the sanitiser at the door and the contact tracing form to fill out. I asked them if they’d been busy all day, they said they had, and that their sister shop at another mall had rung to say they were absolutely flat out.
Many retailers have staff on reduced salaries and are doing reduced hours, so they said with the limited hours open and limited staff, and with all the regulations they have to adhere to, business was busy, but at a much slower pace.
I also had the exhilarating thrill of going to the hairdresser yesterday. Like many hairdressers, mine is working 12 hour days 7 days a week to clear the backlog of clients.
My hairdressing salon looked more like an ICU.. they’d taken PPE very seriously.. full face visor masks, gloves, hand sanitiser at the door, contact tracing forms to fill out, distancing, and perspex screens everywhere between each station. They didn’t just have masks for the hairdressers to wear either, clients had masks and gloves to wear too. That’s got to be a huge expense if all hairdressing businesses are taking Level 2 that seriously.
I wonder how long all this diligence will last. I also wonder how long the spending will last.
So yesterday was a weird day. New freedoms, new spending opportunities for people, but at the same time a budget spelling out how difficult the next few months and years are going to be.
We are going to have to strike a balance.
Because it didn't look like those in the mall yesterday had any understanding of how tough a winter it may yet be.