Christchurch turns to retail therapy

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 17:30 04/01/2013
Isobel Devereux
John Kirk-Anderson

BRISK BUSINESS: Isobel Devereux, assistant manager at Annah Stretton, says the store is now busier than before the quakes.

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Spending at Christchurch shops is on the rise as people begin to put the upheaval of the past two years behind them.

Provisional figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show retail activity in Christchurch jumped by 2.1 per cent in the September quarter after a 2.5 per cent increase in the previous quarter.

The consecutive rises bring retail activity levels in Christchurch more in line with the rest of the country and suggest the city is bouncing back from the earthquakes.

Since the June 2010 quarter, before the earthquakes, Christchurch's total retail activity has risen 6.8 per cent, compared with the national increase of 8 per cent.

In the past quarter, retail activity nationally fell 0.8 per cent, but activity in Christchurch rose 2.1 per cent.

More than $1.39 billion passed through Christchurch shop tills over that period, and another $222m was spent on accommodation and food services.

"Christchurch's sales growth fell behind the rest of the country after the quakes began," Statistics New Zealand industry and labour statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. "But strong rises in the past two quarters, coupled with this quarter's decrease in national retail figures, has helped to narrow that gap."

Retailers spoken to by The Press said they were heading into 2013 optimistic of further growth.

Isobel Devereux, assistant manager at Annah Stretton in Colombo St, Sydenham, said the shop was trading better than any of the other 34 Annah Stretton stores in the country, and business was far brisker than it had been before the quakes.

"We've done fantastically," Devereux said. "Since we came here in August we've been absolutely creaming it."

Saretta Rout, manager of gift store Redcurrent, also in Colombo St, said that since the shop opened in May 2011, trade had "gone up and up".

"Both our [Christchurch] stores are trading really well," Rout said.

Many people in Christchurch were turning to retail therapy to help lift their spirits and were spending freely.

It had been a "huge" Christmas and the signs were that 2013 was going to be another good year, Rout said.

At Westfield Riccarton, business has been booming, although management said yesterday that it was too early to quantify the growth in sales as trading figures for 2012 would not be available until the middle of this month.

"Indications are that the centre has continued to achieve strong sales and customer visitations in 2012," said Westfield New Zealand shopping centre general manager Linda Trainer.

"If you were to average the annual visitations on the previous year by month, the centre receives well in excess of one million visitations per month."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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