Efforts to reinvigorate and develop the central city are paying dividends, with most business owners upbeat about the future of the CBD.
The 2018 Central City Business Survey shows that most respondents enjoy their central base, finding the area “interesting and vibrant”.
In all, 71 per cent of respondents believe that the city centre is a “good place for business”.
However, three-quarters of respondents say that the completion of the Christchurch Convention Centre, Te Pae, and the Metro Sports Facility is important to creating a thriving central city.
The positive survey results are backed up by independent analysis of consumer spending carried out by Marketview. That analysis shows that since 2016 there have been increases in central city spending on food, beverages and accommodation services.
Pedestrian counts at various central city sites since June 2018 also point to increased activity in the central city.
In Cashel Mall, the number of pedestrians has climbed to a weekday peak of 1100 per hour while the opening of Tūranga has boosted foot traffic by an extra 200 pedestrians per hour in Cathedral Square. There has also been a marked increase in people around the Arts Centre since the opening of the Sunday Market.
Christchurch City Council Head of Urban Regeneration, Urban Design and Heritage Carolyn Ingles says the focus on regeneration is starting to bring more people into the city and have a positive impact on business.
“The renaissance is well under way as more people really engage with the city – shopping, socialising and living in the heart of Christchurch,” Ms Ingles says.
“Our stylish central area is again the place to be, promoting social interaction and providing an amazing range of retail and business opportunities. Our ‘new’ city is also more compact, and more walkable and bike-friendly. People once again have a meaningful sense of place when it comes to their city.”
Central City Business Association Chairperson Brendan Chase has welcomed the latest results, citing a determined push by business owners – working in tandem with the Council – to raise the central city profile and attract more people.
“The central city business survey results show that we are firmly on the right track, with still more developments to open over the next year,” Mr Chase says.
“The survey of association members shows that they are optimistic about the future as more people become familiar and comfortable with the central city.”
Retail and hospitality businesses (64 per cent) make up the bulk of survey respondents.
A quarter of all respondents say business has improved in the last year.
More than 70 per cent cite the importance of ensuring that people feel safe in the central city in order to support business, followed by the need for safe and accessible car parking (57 per cent) and street and public space lighting (50 per cent).
Nearly 40 per cent rate pedestrian areas and public spaces, safe and accessible car parking and public transport and cycling facilities as the top three features of the central city.
However, half of respondents view city events and attractions as “below average” or” very poor”.
More than 50 per cent are also concerned about cleanliness and safety.
Nearly 80 per cent of respondents say the biggest challenges are poor public perceptions of the city, people not being aware of what’s on offer and a lack of people living, working and visiting the area.
The survey findings will help inform Council decision-making.