Daily late shopping in central city promoted

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 09:56 08/10/2012

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Central Christchurch could follow an international trend for daily late shopping to compete with suburban malls.

Unlike the malls which stipulate strict hours of business, central city shopkeepers in Christchurch have always set their own individual opening hours.

Central City Business Association chairman and City Mall landlord Anthony Gough will require tenants to open daily from 10am to 8pm when he builds new stores next year.

"We intend to shift the shopping hours and give the malls one hell of a fright," he said.

Gough and his brother, Tracy, will rebuild shops and hospitality outlets on their 13 adjoining sites between Cashel and Hereford streets and Oxford Tce. He said other landlords need to join forces and write co-ordinated shopping hours into leases, with penalties for retailers who failed to comply.

The change would encourage workers to stay in the city to dine and shop, and help revitalise the city, he said.

"I've pitched the idea to some of our neighbours - they are slightly nervous because it's somewhat radical, but I reckon it's where we should be going. We need to rebuild a 21st century city and this is the ideal opportunity."

Until the earthquakes only bar operators on The Strip in Oxford Terrace, tenants of Gough, had been required to agree to set hours of business. Re:Start has followed the same policy for its container mall tenants since it was launched 12 months ago, opening from 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sundays.

Association manager and Re:Start director Paul Lonsdale said evening shopping, common in Europe and also seen in Australia and Auckland, would distinguish the city centre from the suburbs and encourage inner city living.

"It's something we have talked about for many years, but with the rebuild, now this is the time.

"It's a trend now across the world. Would it work in Christchurch? I don't know, but it's something that's worth giving a go."

Lonsdale said whatever hours were agreed on, they needed to be consistent because piecemeal business hours annoyed shoppers.

Central city landlords needed to get together to create leasing and marketing strategies, and a business plan, he said. "Otherwise there are dead zones that kill other businesses that are near them. You need to create a buzz."

City Mall landlord Nick Hunt said he liked the concept. However, Hunt, who has a $70 million rebuild planned for his Shades-Whitcoulls site, suggested any co-ordinated hours should be driven by retailers, not property owners.

"It's a great idea. If the tenants want to do it then I'm all for it and I'm sure it could happen.

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"But to start with we need to make everything as easy as possible for them."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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