Businesses call for more people to move into the CBD to help boost the Christchurch economy.
Central city bar, Strange and Co, has reduced their opening hours to adapt to the business landscape in Christchurch. “Visitor numbers are not where they were pre-earthquake,” General Manager Rick Stevens said.
Competition is stiff, 75% of the new businesses that have opened post-earthquake seem to bars and eateries, Stevens said. “With what seems to be a new one opening up every two weeks."
The number of people in the CBD is not large enough to support the number of hospitality businesses the CBD has, Stevens said. Between Sunday and Thursday almost all their clients are tourists, which is down to the “lack of people living in the CBD."
“The strong will survive,” he said. However, many bars and restaurants in the city are either closing or having to reduce opening hours to stay afloat.
Strange and Co used to be open seven days a week from noon. However, because of the lack of foot traffic, they only open at 12 pm on Fridays and the weekend. All other days they open at 4 pm. “There is no point being open for two customers," Stevens said.
Stevens would like to see the council encouraging more people to live in the city centre because right now, “Christchurch is just a big town,” he said.
Earlier this month, Christchurch City Councillor Jamie Gough told Metronews, in podcast 'What's up Ōtautahi', that the residential component of the central city rebuild is something that we are “falling down with.”
The Christchurch City Council has launched a project to boost the number of people living in the central city. By 2028, the council has set a goal which would see 20,000-people living in the CBD. It is a target that Gough sees as important. “We’ve got to get there,” Gough said.
Central City Business Association Manager Paul Lonsdale said businesses face a “misconception” from the public that it is hard getting into the city. “There is now more off-street parking in the city than there was pre-earthquake."
Lonsdale believes that education is needed to help people learn about how to access city centre. “It’s very easy to get into the city you just need to know how,” he said.
"It’s been a tough winter," Lonsdale said. However, central city visitor numbers are on the up and “there are very positive signs coming into the summer.”