The two main supermarket chains fear a national database of earthquake-prone buildings could be used as ammunition in retail wars or to provoke strikes and public boycotts.
Foodstuffs, which owns Pak 'n Save and New World, warned of panic induced by knowledge that a building was quake-prone.
Progressive, which owns Countdown, suggested public disclosure could allow competitors to undermine each other with scare tactics.
As part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's national quake-prone buildings policy, announced on August 7, a central database of at-risk buildings will replace the current patchwork of local council lists.
It aims to detail all quake-prone buildings and to be searchable.
The Christchurch City Council has published a list of quake-prone buildings in Christchurch, last updated on August 8. It includes a liquor story in Beresford St, blocks of shops in Buckleys Rd and McBratneys Rd, and the Supervalue supermarket in Stanmore Rd.
However, a minority of submitters during the policy's consultation phase - 15 per cent of 535 - said they were concerned about the impact of the data being public, including the two big supermarket chains.
Progressive said it was concerned about commercially sensitive information on the register.
It was worried about "trade competitors taking advantage of public fear and publicising the merits of its building over a competitor's building".
Foodstuffs said it supported the idea of a register but warned that if it was not done properly, it could lead to strikes and customer boycotts.
Without proper interpretation, the information could "lead to pressure from stakeholders (tenants, staff, customers) for the owners to act immediately' ... [and] so poses some commercial risk".
Further, "there is a possibility a state of panic could take hold and collective action such as strikes, customer boycotts etc could present real commercial risks for businesses".
The supermarkets were not alone in voicing concern over the database.
Building owners suggested there could be a "seismic stigma" affecting property prices and tenancy rates if information was not kept up to date.
The Property Council said seismic information could be misinterpreted and lead to "unreasonable/undesirable demands being placed on building owners".
The Dunedin City Council suggested it could be used "irresponsibly and create unnecessary fear".
Currently, local authorities decide whether to provide a public list of quake-prone buildings. Some do and some do not. There is no national approach.
The Wellington City Council, which has a publicly available list, was broadly supportive of the database as long as it did not cost more.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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