First day of retail at new traffic light system ‘bustling’, retailer says

After almost two years of alert levels, shops opened their doors to the new traffic light system on Friday.

Auckland’s city centre felt some lockdown relief as resturants and cafes reopened to dining customers, too.

“It is bustling in the stores at the moment and there is a very positive vibe,” Edward Caughey, managing director of department store Smith and Caughey’s said.

It is operating under the red level, which is in place in Auckland, Northland, and an area across the centre of the North Island from Whanganui in the west, through Taupō and to the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne in the east.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: Move to orange setting will mean ‘business as usual’ for South Island, parts of North
* Covid-19: How bars and restaurants will work under the traffic light system
* Covid-19: How workplaces will operate under the new traffic light system

The rest of the country is orange.

At both red and orange, shops, including outdoor farmers markets and banks, will have capacity limits based on the 1m distancing rules. They can choose to use the vaccine pass system or not, but that will not change the capacity limits.

Managing director of Auckland department store Smith and Caughey’s says it's been a bustling day.

SmithandCaughey/Supplied

Managing director of Auckland department store Smith and Caughey’s says it’s been a bustling day.

Smith and Caughey’s had opted to require all customers to show their vaccine pass on entry – but it had not hindered business, Caughey said.

“We are choosing to operate as a vaccine pass business to provide the highest level of protection and peace of mind for our staff and customers alike.

“In addition, as a destination department store with a number of hospitality, close-contact services, and eventing elements within, we need to operate as a vaccine pass business in order to be able to operate these things effectively.”

Its online store and contactless click-and-collect service remained open for all customers.

Ballantynes chief executive Maria O’Halloran said vaccine passes would not be required to enter the Christchurch and Timaru stores, which are in orange.

Ballantynes in Christchurch only requires customers to show their vaccine pass at close-contact parts of the business.

Alden Williams/Stuff

Ballantynes in Christchurch only requires customers to show their vaccine pass at close-contact parts of the business.

But they will be required at the Kin Bistro and Winebar, the Tearooms and JB’s Café, Solace Hair and Beauty, Ballantynes Tailoring and Alteration Services and Brow Services at the Benefit counter.

Staff in those areas wouldl repsonsible for checking and scanning customers vaccine passes, she said.

Viv Beck, chief executive of Auckland’s city centre business association Heart of the City, said it was a great day for the city centre after 108 days of restrictions.

“By 9am today our pedestrian counts were up 20 per cent on last Friday so that’s a good start,” she said.

Foot traffic in central Auckland was already up 20 per cent on last Friday, Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Foot traffic in central Auckland was already up 20 per cent on last Friday, Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said.

She hoped to see a build-up of customers throughout the day and over the weekend.

“While we are realistic that the city is not back to normal yet, we remain optimistic and invite Aucklanders to get out and about and support businesses over the coming weeks”

Chris Wilkinson, managing director for First Retail Group said retail was particularly busy on Thursday across the country, as people possibly unsure about what the traffic light system would mean for shoppers stocked up.

“For some larger-format stores a degree of normality is returning today, albeit under the new traffic light regime, which will bring back familiar environments for consumers.

“We’re expecting some trepidation over the next few days as shoppers come to grips with the places they will need to use their vaccine passport like cafes, and those they won’t – like many retail stores.”

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