By DAVID HILL
North Canterbury residents are answering the call to buy local and Christchurch visitors are escaping suburban malls.
It is all adding up to a buoyant spell for local retailers as the region adjusts to life after lockdown.
Rangiora Promotions chairman Ross Ditmer says there has been plenty of positivity on High Street.
“We want to continue the momentum,” he says.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with the wage subsidy running out and the impact of rising unemployment.”
Mr Ditmer, who is also Bayleys Rangiora manager, says while property listings are down, the market remains buoyant.
Rangiora Showcase Jewellers store owner Julienne Stewart says she is feeling positive for the community.
“It’s nice to see people out on the street and smiling more. Local is supporting local. I think it’s fantastic.”
Country Lane store owner Karla Lattimore said the shop had a “big influx” when it re-opened after the lockdown.
“I think we live in a really good community and everybody is trying to support each other. We’ve had people in from Christchurch and Methven, so people are starting to come out this way.”
Life Pharmacy Rangiora pharmacist Peter Dobbs says business is mixed. Prescriptions and general healthcare sales are up, but there is uncertainty around the global supply chain for medications.
Rivers to Ranges co-owner Anna Morris says business has boomed since the lockdown.
‘‘We’ve had lots of interest and people are keen to get back outdoors. We’ve had
amazing support from local people.’’
Reality Bites Cafe manager Sandeep Singh says patronage has gradually risen in the four
weeks since lockdown, with people pleased to get out and have a ‘‘real coffee’’.
The Little Book Company owner Rob Goldsmith says business is stronger than pre-
lockdown. ‘‘Our only problem is getting stock in. We cancelled shipments when we
went into lockdown because we didn’t know what was going to happen.’’
Kaiapoi Promotions Association business manager Martyn Cook says ‘‘shop local’’
has become the new national anthem.
Blackwells Department Store co-owner Michael Blackwell says he feels fortunate to still be trading in the post-Covid-19 environment.
‘‘Post-lockdown, people’s behaviours have changed so we’ve seen a lot more people
who would have shopped at the malls keeping it local, and we’ve had people from
Christchurch coming out for a drive in the weekends.’’
Next door, Coffee Culture Kaiapoi owner-operator Rachel Fletcher says her cafe is busy.
‘‘We’re probably doing about 90 percent of our pre-Covid levels, so we’re almost there. When you spend that long inside your house, you just want to spend time with other
people, don’t you?’’
Cattermoles Butchery owner Chris Beach says business is booming as locals are redis
covering their local butcher.
‘‘I’m not too sure what it is. It could be people shopping locally or people travelling, but
they seem to want to know where their meat comes from.’’
Craze Fashion store owner Sherie McKinlay says Kaiapoi and Rangiora have become a
destination for city shoppers.
‘‘We’ve got lots of groups of ladies coming out from Christchurch because they
can’t just jump on a plane and have a girls’ weekend in Melbourne.’’
Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon encourages residents to continue to shop locally.
‘‘The message is it’s not just local to your community, but take the opportunity to enjoy
the boutique shopping our district has to offer.
‘‘Emma’s of Oxford is a favourite of mine and on a Sunday there’s the Oxford Farmer’s Market and the art gallery, and there’s a lot of people.’’
Mr Gordon says while there have been redundancies, there are signs that the local
economy is faring well.
‘‘Another signal is the interest from developers keen to invest here. There has been
an increase in the last month or so.’’
Building consent applications for new houses remain strong, Waimakariri District Council strategy and engagement manager Simon Markham says. ‘‘We’ve been getting plus or minus 600 consents each year since 2014, so the question is, where will that track from here?
‘‘We need to be positive because there are many good indicators, but we need to be
cautious because we don’t know what the end result is going to be, and this is an
unprecedented global event.’’
The council is continuing to work on its recovery plan, with initial feedback due by July 3.
Ideas so far include more street and themed festivals, a fire station at Eyrewell, a seed
library, a council-funded local shuttle, and engaging local businesses for local projects.
‘‘We’re getting … ideas for doing things differently, which is great and it’s the sort of
innovative and out-of-the-box thinking which happens out of these type of events,’’ Mr