Aucklanders Need to Head Back to the Office

“Level 1 is great news for our hospitality operators and retailers. As our latest spending figures show Level 3, and even Level 2, have been an absolute killer over the past month,” said Takapuna Beach Business Association (TBBA) chief executive, Terence Harpur.

His comments follow Cabinet’s decision on Alert Levels, with Auckland to move to Level 1 effective from midday today. The North Shore business leader is now calling on office workers to come back to base, saying the ongoing absence of so many is being felt by town centres around Auckland.

“Working from home really hits our shops, restaurants, and personal services. We now need everyone to come back to the office from Monday onwards,” commented Mr Harpur.

The TBBA has released Market view data for the week ending 7 March – with six of those days under Level 3 lockdown. It shows total retail spend in Takapuna was down 76.8 percent compared to the same week last year. In the week ending 21 February - which considered the earlier three-day Level 3 lockdown - retail spend was down by 48.3 percent.

“Let’s not forget that since Valentine’s Day Auckland has spent most of the time operating at either Level 3 or Level 2. It has been a really tough four weeks, with Level 2 also very challenging for our smaller retailers, bars, cafes, and restaurants given social distancing is required and large gatherings prohibited.”

As well as showing a 76.8 percent fall in overall retail trade, Takapuna’s latest Market view weekly report revealed spending in Takapuna on Hospitality & Accommodation was -74.4 percent; Food, Liquor & Pharmacies -53.6percent; Clothing, Footwear & Dept. Stores -78.8 percent; Home & Recreational Retailing -73.4 percent; and all other -89.5 percent.

“We’re now hoping for a bounce, but overall spending has been behind all summer, so we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re again calling on people to shop locally. We’re also putting a plea out to employers to think about the impact on town centres when office-based staff work from home,” continued Harpur.

Mobile phone data in the past year has shown people do return to the Takapuna town centre in stronger numbers under Level 1, with the night-time economy recovering faster than the daytime one. That again highlights the increasing prevalence of remote working and the impact of their day-time absence. He says car-parking occupancy has also fallen since COVID-19.

“Along with considerable freedoms returning under Level 1, the other good news is parking is easier, local businesses have never been happier to see you, and importantly shopping locally leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Takapuna is also the best place outside the Viaduct to soak up the America’s Cup atmosphere.”

The CEO said Takapuna is in a more fortunate position than many other areas, as it is set to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic ready to fire. More than $50m-plus is being invested to modernise the North Shore metropolitan centre as part of the Panuku-led ‘Unlock Takapuna’ urban regeneration project as well as the private sector investing significantly.