Winter blues cool confidence

CECILE MEIER AND MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014

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Cantabrians' economic confidence has fallen in the past three months but is still highest in the country.

The Westpac McDermott Miller confidence survey shows that despite being less upbeat, Cantabrians are still the most optimistic in the country, though the gap with Auckland and Waikato is narrowing.

The survey measures the balance of households expecting good economic times as opposed to bad in the next year, as a percentage of the total number of households.

In March Canterbury's score was 62 per cent, falling to 43 per cent in June, down 19 per cent. Westpac said rising interest rates and lower dairy prices might be the reason for less confidence.

Around the country confidence slipped in 9 of 12 regions.

Meanwhile, on the shopping front, Christchurch's hardware, building and garden supplies stores keep powering ahead, while spending in hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants has been falling for six months as new outlets mushroom around the city.

Hospitality spending fell 0.1 per cent in the March quarter after decreases of 1.2 per cent and 1.0 per cent in the December and September quarters respectively, according to Statistics New Zealand's latest Christchurch retail index released yesterday.

Cathedral Junction's Seasons Cafe owner Crystal Jang said businesses located in the CBD needed locals' support.

Since reopening six months ago, most of the cafe's customers had been tourists, she said.

"Sometimes it gets suddenly very quiet, especially in winter," she said.

It was not easy for people to access the CBD with roadworks and blocked walkways, she said.

Nucleus Bar opened in High St three months ago.

General manager Thomas Latham said it had been "a little bit of a struggle" to start with, but it was now starting to pick up.

The bar was dependent on the weather and winter was quiet. However, the bar was usually busy at the weekend, he said.

Spending in Christchurch was ahead of national levels overall, with total retail and hospitality sales rising 1.5 per cent in the quarter to March, compared with a 0.7 per cent national increase.

Christchurch spending fell behind the rest of the country after the earthquakes began in September 2010.

However, continued increases over the past year have seen Christchurch move even further ahead of the national trend.

The trend for Christchurch retail and hospitality sales has risen 22 per cent since the June 2010 quarter, compared with a rise of 15 per cent at the national level.

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- The Press

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