When one door closes, another one opens - as FreshChoice supermarket prepares to open a store on Wellington’s Cuba St.
There have been a string of retail closures on the famous street in recent months including Madame Fancy Pants, Everyday Wine, Rough Peel Records and Carly Harris.
But FreshChoice is swimming against the tide and moving in.
The new supermarket in the heart of Wellington will expand the FreshChoice group to 45 sites and is one of 31 stores the chain is opening in the next six months.
Woolworths NZ franchise general manager Tim Cartwright said the Cuba St store will open in December.
“This exciting addition to our FreshChoice family is more than just a convenience store; it’s a modern hub owned and operated by passionate locals who are deeply committed to supporting our community and local supply partners.
“At FreshChoice Cuba St, our primary focus is on providing Wellington with the very best. We are dedicated to offering an exceptional shopping experience that revolves around three core pillars: the best fresh food, convenient food-to-go options, and unparalleled customer service.”
Other shop owners on Wellington’s Cuba St have blamed hikes in rent for a domino effect of recent closures.
They have also cited Covid-19, the Parliament protest, a cost-of-living crisis and labour shortages as having an impact.
Recently, Simon Dalton of Gerry Rea Partners was appointed as liquidator of Carly Harris Design at the request of shareholders.
Director shareholders Carly Harris and her mother Christine Harris identified that the company was unable to pay its debts and after seeking professional advice resolved to place the company into liquidation.
Asked what had gone wrong, Carly Harris said the pandemic meant people stopped coming in and buying clothes.
The business had operated on Cuba St in Wellington for about 20 years and in Ponsonby, Auckland, for around 17 but could not survive Covid.
“Covid just wrecked us - it was the Government telling people to work from home. Customers would tell us, ‘we’ve just not been into town for six months’,” Harris said on Monday.
Average office occupancy in some of Wellington’s most well-known government agencies is hovering at just over 50 per cent.
Corporates are also embracing flexible working but an ANZ spokeswoman said the company still believes the workplace is an important part of its culture, and there is an expectation that employees are in the office half the time.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency data shows there are thousands of fewer cars on the road.
Annual daily traffic on State Highway 1 on Cobham Drive in eastern Wellington has fallen from 36,097 trips in 2019 to 27,751 last year.
Traffic on SH1 near Kaiwharawhara, which captures traffic flows in northern Wellington, has been more stable - only falling from 47,103 trips in 2019 to 43,526 in 2022.
Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.
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