Kmart brings shoppers to Richmond

EARLY START: Mahina Terei, left, Anahera Cross, Kay Rowling, Shikaan Cross, Nikita Tepu, Darnel Faauli and Kathaleen Faauli were among the first shoppers at the KMart opening.
EARLY START: Mahina Terei, left, Anahera Cross, Kay Rowling, Shikaan Cross, Nikita Tepu, Darnel Faauli and Kathaleen Faauli were among the first shoppers at the KMart opening.

Richmond business owners are surfing a surge of extra foot traffic and spending in the wake of Kmart's opening earlier this month.

Colourplus Richmond owner Kevin Gear said the town was buzzing.

"It's infectious - it's going to be a pretty amazing Christmas."

Though his McGlashen St store was not near Kmart, he said he and his staff had seen increased inquiry.

"There's definitely more traffic and more people around and we will benefit," Kevin said.

Made for Men owner Mark Ludemann said his Queen St store had two good weeks of trading after Kmart's opening.

"I've had people come in who have never been down the street. It's got to be a positive," Mark said.

Richmond mall manager Belinda de Clerq said foot traffic jumped by 23 per cent in the first four days of Kmart's opening and had remained fairly steady since.

"Even last weekend was very busy and the food court has been crazy busy," Belinda said.

She said both the mall's supermarkets and its retailers generally saw Kmart's opening as a positive with a number reporting increased sales. Shoppers appeared not to prefer one complex over the other, she said.

"I think people see the two complexes almost as one. I've watched people park outside Pak 'n Save and walk to Kmart and Kmart customers coming here - and the trolleys have ended up at either side of the carpark."

"Lots of the retailers are saying customers are not locals and over the weekend we have lots more families."

Belinda said the feeling was that the addition of Kmart to Richmond's retail mix had drawn shoppers from Nelson, Stoke, Motueka and beyond.

Meanwhile this week's opening of the Flight Centre in Richmond Mall meant there was only one shop site available for lease in the complex.

Kmart store manager Camrin Holmes said the 5100-square metre store, which opened on November 7, was running really well.

And Queen St retailers were reaping the reward with some saying Kmart's opening had brought a Christmas-like surge in business, she said.

"It's what we expected. Other businesses and retailers will experience a positive effect because there will be new customers coming into the area who will shop at all the stores outside Kmart."

Richmond Unlimited co-ordinator Kim Quint said most of Richmond's business owners outside the mall were positive about Kmart's arrival in town.

"People are saying they believe their bottom lines will be up by 4 per cent. There's been some good solid turnovers and many had two fantastic days of trading after Kmart's opening," Kim said.

She said shops which had a point of difference had nothing to fear.

"Kmart's drawing in people from outside the region and the feeling around Richmond is one of confidence - both from businesses and the public in general. People see the big box retailers are prepared to give Richmond a go.

"Richmond now has everything a shopping community needs - major retail, a great central park in Sundial Square, free parking, the only mall in the top of the south and lots of individual retail shops."

Meanwhile Richmond's 3000sqm The Warehouse is expected to open in July next to Kmart.

General manager operations Simon Turner said the company had invested considerable time in finding a suitable location for the store which would create about 60 new jobs and give the region another shopping destination.

The new store uses a modernised format which the company is introducing throughout the country.

Developer Gibbons Construction managing director Scott Gibbons said work was progressing well with a workforce in excess of 100 across the different trades on the site during the build's peak.