Financial support welcomed but fears it won't be enough for city centre businesses
Financial support announced for COVID-19 impacted businesses is welcomed but Heart of the City fears it won’t be enough for city centre businesses who have been disproportionality hit by COVID-19. January alone in the Heart of the City - already a quiet trading month - was down -43% on January 2020, meaning that it may be difficult for some businesses to meet the eligibility criteria for the COVID support payment, requiring a loss of revenue of 40%.
Viv Beck, Chief Executive of Heart of the City says that “We need to make sure our businesses can get through this next phase, so it’s heartening that there has been a response to the very loud calls for support. However, we are concerned that it’s not going to be enough and that the criteria may unfairly rule some out, particularly given the dismal trading in January. The central city has been severely hit and many were struggling even before we hit the Omicron wave.”
From July to December 2021, the heart of the city generated spend of $395M, down -54% on the same time in 2019 - equating to a loss of nearly $458M. Comparatively, the rest of New Zealand for the same period was up 3.2%.
Beck says that “We had also hoped that there would be a different approach to taken to the loan scheme, which would have been meant businesses who need it could access more money that is easy to repay. It is disappointing not to see this.”
Beck goes on to say “The mass loss of workers when we went back into the Red light has had a massive impact on our businesses and it’s great that some Chief Executives are publicly speaking about the importance of getting people safely back to the office. Reassessing the isolation policy and ensuring all businesses have access to RAT tests is vital to help keep them open and provide confidence for customers.”