COVID bites Auckland’s heart of the city to the tune of nearly $750M: financial support and collaboration key to recovery
Latest spending figures released today by Heart of the City confirm a loss of nearly $750 million of consumer spending since the first border closure in February 2020, which equates to an average of $560,000 per business. This includes around $294M in the hospitality and restaurant industry and $320M in the retail sector. Heart of the City says additional financial support is required urgently to support businesses to survive, along with tangible action to maintain a strong and vibrant heart.
“The coming months for many businesses will be untenable if urgent financial support is not put in place,” says Heart of the City Chief Executive Viv Beck. “Furthermore, if there isn’t the investment now and businesses are left to fail, recovery will take longer and we’ll risk having a lot more people dependent on the Government downstream,” says Beck.
Even if Auckland moves down levels next week, both Level 3 and the new Level 2 restrictions will make many sectors not viable to operate – including hospitality, events and the arts – which will mean a difficult summer ahead for many.
“Financial relief, as well as supply of product and access to labour is urgent and there are other actions needed to leverage the potential of the city centre, so we can get back to a level of optimism we could see before the latest lockdown” says Beck.
“Despite the real challenges ahead we are confident in the future of the city centre but it will require a collaborative effort to make sure that we aren’t starting from a much lower base. Investor confidence is high, with a range of developments underway both commercial and residential, and a number of new businesses choosing to locate here. But we have to accelerate other work we had underway to sort the immediate challenges out now.” Beck says.
Heart of the City has a number of initiatives underway to maintain a vibrant city centre and support recovery such as events and activation, outdoor dining extensions, an empty tenancy programme, a push to improve access and incentivise people to get people back on public transport when they safely can, along with dealing with crime, antisocial behaviour and social issues. We are working with property owners, government agencies, central and local, along with other business, industry and social service groups.
Beck says that “COVID has dealt the city centre a real blow, and whilst it’s not just a city centre issue, there is a disproportionate impact and there is much to lose. We want to see energy and focus on recovery, with appropriate support in place for businesses that keep people employed and provide the money to pay for recovery through taxes.”