Central city, Supporting business  |  21 Aug 2019

Getting shoppers into Christchurch’s city centre to experience some of the newest retail on offer in New Zealand will require a major marketing effort by Central City retailers.

That is the view of retail consultants, Premier Retail Marketing, who were asked by Christchurch City Council and the Central City Business Association to assess Central City retailing and to provide advice on how to tackle the challenges.

Their Retail Review Report says Christchurch’s city centre offers the newest, most modern shopping facilities with quality shops that reflect style, aspiration, contemporary design and offerings that cannot be found elsewhere in the city – or in Auckland and Wellington. 

It points out that after several years of road works, it is now easy to get into the city centre and there are plenty of good parking options.

But the report says shoppers have been slow to respond to what’s on offer.

During the years when the Central City was not fully functioning, shopping and dining habits changed, with people staying closer to home or heading to suburban malls. 

It is now critical the Central City attracts people back and regains its share of the shopping and dining spend.

“The city retailers must work together as a collaborative group to wrestle back some of the tightly held market share,” the report says.

“A collaborative effort to improve the customer experience, deliver effective marketing campaigns and promotions and attract new businesses to the city requires an exceptional commitment to achieve success.

“Perceptions must be changed or they will hinder future growth in the Central City,’’ the report says.

Council Head of Urban Regeneration, Design and Heritage, Carolyn Ingles, says the Retail Review Report provides some valuable insights into the steps that need to be taken in order for the Central City to truly thrive.

To support this, the report is accompanied by a business toolkit to enable Central City businesses to act and create momentum as a unified, focused team.

“We jointly commissioned the report with the Central City Business Association and we will be discussing with them how we can support their efforts to create a strong, sustainable Central City retail sector,’’ Ms Ingles says.

“We have been working with ChristchurchNZ to attract people into the city centre through campaigns such as Baby Come Back and by running an ongoing programme of events.  There are very promising signs that people are returning to the Central City. 

“To benefit from this, the business community needs to showcase the ever growing range of unique and distinctive retail and hospitality that is now on offer in town,’’ Ms Ingles says.