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Black Friday: Westfield Newmarket vows to feed shoppers stuck in car parks; AT warns of 'busiest shopping weekend ever'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Nov 2023, 10:03PM
Photo / Coco Veber-Nichols
Photo / Coco Veber-Nichols

Black Friday: Westfield Newmarket vows to feed shoppers stuck in car parks; AT warns of 'busiest shopping weekend ever'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Nov 2023, 10:03PM

Auckland shoppers experienced long delays at Sylvia Park shopping complex this evening, while Westfield has put plans in place to prevent chaos at their malls over the Black Friday weekend.

A Newstalk ZB listener said the Sylvia Park car park “is an absolute deadlock”.

“I’ve been waiting an hour and counting to move 40 metres,” the person said.

In response to potential Black Friday gridlock in the coming days, Westfield said staff will be out in force to help alleviate delays.

“At Westfield Newmarket, we will have a significant and visible presence of Westfield staff members roaming our centres and our carparks,” Westfield said in a statement after customers in Newmarket waited in their cars for three hours last weekend.

“Our carpark ambassadors will be on hand to manage traffic flow and assist customers in the event of any external delays that may impact our centre.

“We will be communicating regularly with our customers on the best deals and events taking place in centre as well as live carpark updates via our digital channels across the weekend.”

There was heavy traffic around the Sylvia Park shopping mall this evening. Photo / Google Maps
There was heavy traffic around the Sylvia Park shopping mall this evening. Photo / Google Maps

Last weekend, shoppers were forced to wait in their cars for hours as traffic moved at a crawl, with some motorists desperate for food and water, and one woman wetting herself in her vehicle as she waited in the traffic jam.

Westfield also said, in the event of extended delays in the carpark, “PA announcements to advise of any delays, water and food for customers in their vehicles, and coffee vouchers to customers who choose to leave their car and re-enter the centre”.

Auckland Transport (AT) has warned shoppers about high volumes of people flocking to the city’s malls for Black Friday sales and is encouraging the use of public transport in what could be “the busiest shopping weekend ever.”

Shoppers were stuck in their cars at the Westfield Newmarket Mall carpark for hours this afternoon as queues snaked around the levels. Photo / Coco Veber-Nichols
Shoppers were stuck in their cars at the Westfield Newmarket Mall carpark for hours this afternoon as queues snaked around the levels. Photo / Coco Veber-Nichols

The transport agency came under intense scrutiny following the carpark chaos.

AT’s executive general manager public transport services Stacey van der Putten said the agency did everything it could and the situation was simply an “unfortunate reminder of what happens when large numbers of Aucklanders all head to the shops at once on a rainy weekend afternoon”.

She said while many shoppers will continue to favour their cars, this is a great time to try public transport, if possible, to avoid being stuck in long queues this weekend.

“We are working closely with mall owners and shopping centres ahead of the weekend, as we know they are expecting huge numbers of customers. Clearly, at this time of year, and for the weeks leading up to Christmas, parking spaces in and around malls are in very high demand.”

Van der Putten said AT wrote to the mall owners and shopping centres this week to encourage them to proactively manage their parking spaces. “Our letter also asked for malls to have clear signage for parks, as well as dedicated staff to assist customers with travel and parking options.

“Auckland Transport Operations Centre [ATOC] is working with malls and shopping centres on how traffic flow can be improved to enter carparks. This week, more work has been done by ATOC to manage the issues that arose at Westfield’s Newmarket parking building last weekend.

“Buses, trains and ferries offer a quicker, cheaper, and congestion-free option for Aucklanders. They allow shoppers to travel without the waiting times that they can endure in cars.”

Westfield apologised to customers in a statement, blaming traffic on the streets surrounding the centre and weather conditions for the congestion.

“We offered additional complimentary parking to customers and lifted the boom gates to assist with traffic flow,” Westfield said.

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