Upper Hutt retailing on an earthquake high after Queensgate damaged
Christmas has come early for Upper Hutt retailers.
Main St and Mall business owners are profiting from the consequences the November 14 earthquake wreaked for Lower Hutt shoppers.
"We're experiencing a big increase in shopper numbers on the back of what's happened at Queensgate in particular," Upper Hutt City Council economic development manger Phil Gorman said.
The Mall manager Grant Burns said visitor counts were continuing to rise.
"Our foot traffic is significantly up. For Saturday [November 26] we had 7800 people through compared to what would be a normal 4500," he said.
"That's really good and what we are hoping for, as a consequence, is people coming here and seeing what we do offer.
"We'd also be hoping for potential tenants to see that for future leasing," Burns said.
Gorman said CBD retailing figures for November and December, available in the New Year, would confirm the unexpected shopping surge.
"It's driven by the earthquake and we are sympathetic about that, of course, but at the same time it's a real opportunity because people are discovering what we have to offer here.
"We're definitely getting first time shoppers in big numbers.
"Saturday morning in the CBD was chaos really, car parks were very hard to find," he said.
Upper Hutt retailers are uniform in reporting increased customer numbers and improved sales since the earthquake.
Along with out-of-town visitors they are also benefiting from "returning" locals who would normally shop away from their home city.
"Definitely Christmas has come a few weeks earlier," Paper Plus owner Rob Hill said.
"We were closed the Monday after the earthquake and since then we've had a big surge and we feel that a lot of it is Upper Hutt people coming back.
"It's right across the board, with the shop itself and with NZ Post and Kiwi Bank," he said.
"It's real busy, basically we're packed from the day's beginning to the day's end," Paper Plus sales assistant Sammie Branje-Moreland, 18, said.
In Lower Hutt about 70 stores, almost half of the Queensgate Mall's retailers, remain closed and car parking numbers have has been severely reduced.