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Customer struggle for new city centre retailers.

Pierre Nixon

Christchurch central city businesses have been at the forefront of changes following the earthquakes but where are the customers?

A new retail review says the CBD needs more customers

Various retail consultants and Premier Retail Marketing were called on by the Christchurch City Council and the Central City Business Association to provide an insight on the current retail position in the Central City. 

The Retail Review Report explains that the Christchurch City Centre is one of the most modern shopping experiences in all of New Zealand and even has high-quality shopping opportunities that are not available in Auckland, Wellington or many Australian Cities. 

Although the ground was laid for a new, exciting customer experience, business has not yet picked up, the review outlines. 

David West of Premier Retail marketing, writes that after the earthquakes the central city shopping infrastructure rebounded but customer shopping patterns did not. Online shopping and Suburban shopping centers such as Riccarton mall have taken over shopper habits. 

A regular Riccarton mall customer, Bella Wilkinson, said: “ever since the earthquakes I’ve found Riccarton mall to be an easier and safer option”. 

Another Riccarton shopper said, shopping in town is a ‘nightmare’ as parking is ridiculously expensive in compared to suburban mall outlets.

However, a business owner in the CBD, Gul Alizadah, thinks the Central City is a prime spot for businesses and believes once all the work is done, the city will be one of the best places to shop in the world. 

The review also features strategies businesses should consider to bring more customers through the door. 

A bigger marketing push was the main strategy, David West offered to central city businesses.

The report states if customers know what's out there for them, they will make an effort to come.

Earlier this year, ChristchurchNZ released a popular advertising campaign to help engage shoppers in the CBD.

The campaign highlighted the city centre's newest bars, retail stores and food areas.

ChristchurchNZ's campaign to highlight the city center

In 2017, the Central City Business Association created a three year strategic plan with the vision to make the central city a vibrant place where the old is celebrated and the new is on showcase.

business pic
Central City two year business plan Central City Business Association

 The plan’s goal included more shops in the central city, increased funding and better resources towards infrastructure.

 Another year remains for the strategic plan but a spokesperson from the CCBA said it is going to plan. 

The review also talks about how the opening of big brands in the city centre  could be the driving force for business.  

Outdoor clothing giant, Kathmandu has just opened up on Colombo Street and fast food chain KFC is currently being built. 

The Riverside Farmers Market is under a month away from being complete which will bring 70 businesses back to the CBD.

These are all improvements for Christchurch City but the review details, more global brands are needed to interest a wider range of people. 

ChristchurchNZ’s latest economic analysis showed that spending in the city centre has risen to 14.3 percent. 

The retail review states this is an important rise for city centre businesses but more is needed to bring the city back to the way it was before the earthquakes.