WOW a bonanza for retailers

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 14:29 05/09/2011
EYE-CATCHER: Vintage clothing boutique store Ziggurat, in Cuba St, was judged WOW's best dressed themed window.
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EYE-CATCHER: Vintage clothing boutique store Ziggurat, in Cuba St, was judged WOW's best dressed themed window.

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Restaurants and fashion houses say business is booming as World of Wearable Arts Awards fans cram intoWellington.

WOW's economic impact on the city was estimated in 2009 to be $15 million, a sum which will be much higher this year because of its longer run.

Some local businesses were concerned this year's extra long WOW before the Rugby World Cup would dilute its financial impact, but their fears have not eventuated.

Danielle Hokianga, manager of Lambton Quay shoe store Mischief, said they were having "a very successful WOW season".

The store had tickled people's fancies with a free shoeshine outside during the first days of WOW.

"It's bigger than Christmas for us. It's always a pickup in business but this year has actually been really good."

It was a similar story at Trade Kitchen restaurant. "It's great for us. We put on a special pre-WOW menu, so yeah, we really notice a big difference in bookings," said owner Ollie Edwards.

Up to 47,000 people are expected to attend the two-week event, and 60 per cent are thought to come from outside Wellington.

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said anecdotally, August had been "incredibly strong" for hoteliers thanks to events such as WOW.

"Wellington has been pumping these past few weeks and given WOW's extended season, I'd say it's been worth well over 2009's $15.1m, this year," Perks said.

Having WOW outside its usual time of late September meant its impact was more evident.

"We've heard some fantastic stories of retail sales . . . and hotel occupancies being significantly up."

With this week still to go, WOW chief executive Gabrielle Hervey said first impressions were of another "rip-roaring success".

"There's no question when you walk around town the shops are buzzing with lots of women who are spending lots and lots of money and having a marvellous time."

Kate Breeze, manager of fashion store Robyn Mathieson, said she had seen "a lot of lovely ladies" roll through during the WOW opening weekend and though business had tailed off during the week, it was picking back up again.

Mike Egan, national president of the Restaurant Association and owner of restaurant Monsoon Poon, said restaurants filled up early when WOW was on.

"People after the show are in a good mood because they've seen a fantastic show and before the show, they're in a good mood because they're all excited about going."

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- The Dominion Post

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