Some prosper as shoppers turn to west

19:22, Jul 13 2011

Christchurch's retail scene is a tale of two cities as about $280 million in retail spending has switched from the earthquake-damaged east to the west of the city, Colliers International director Evan Harris says.

Harris painted a sobering picture for retailers in the central city and eastern suburbs, saying the city had lost 11 supermarkets, four department stores, 20 blocks of suburban shops and 135,000 square metres of retail space, including several malls. "That's $1 billion per annum in displaced turnover."

Harris said a sizeable chunk of turnover had moved from east to west. About $80m in grocery spending had shifted west and a further $200m in retail spending had also gone to the relatively undamaged western city shops.

"There has been very, very significant turnover increase in Riccarton, Northlands, Merivale and Hornby, with estimates of between 30 and 100 per cent increase in turnover."

Strong retailers in the west of the city would get stronger after a huge spike in foot traffic and shopper numbers. The west would also benefit from office tenants pushed out of the CBD.

Harris said the CBD retail area could end up being smaller and more concentrated than it had been before the quake. This was in spite of a recent Colliers survey of its central city office tenants that showed more than 75 per cent wanted to return to the city.

The quake, while devastating, had provided opportunities, Harris said. Severely damaged suburbs such as Sydenham could reinvent themselves.

It had also brought opportunities for property investors. The appetite for investing was still apparent and properties valued up to $2 million were still selling, including the block of units which now housed Colliers. These were on the market before the quake, but all five sold quickly after the February shake for $700,000.