Kate Hawkesby: Confusing messages for butchers and green grocers

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 11:14AM
Photo / File

Kate Hawkesby: Confusing messages for butchers and green grocers

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 11:14AM

It must be tough, if not a complete nightmare, to be a butcher or a green grocer right now.

The messages have been conflicting and confusing.

From the top down, including the MBIE website itself, it's easy to see how it can get bewildering.

First the green grocers and butchers were told they had to close - with thousands of dollars of stock wasted, thrown out, and lost.

Local customers confused, and shop owners bereft.

Then yesterday the backflip - they can open - but online only.

So they can sell online and deliver, they just have to keep their physical shops closed.

The PM said this was something the government had been "utterly consistent on".

Which is completely untrue.

As recent as yesterday morning, the Prime Minister was saying they needed to be closed.

On the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website, it's still a mystery.

Like many instructions there, it's open to interpretation.

"Butchers, bakeries and similar small scale retailers are considered non-essential," it says.. "as similar products are already available in supermarkets."

Whole food delivery services though, are essential - that's your My Food bag type services.. which can deliver you a box of fruit and veges or meat.. so as you can see, clear as mud.

Some small green grocers have managed to adapt to being online, but for many smaller local shops, it's just not been their focus, they haven't had a need for an online presence, many wouldn't even have a website.

So to now be given the green light to set up to sell online, would mean they'd have to configure themselves to do that .. set up a website, an online payment facility, a delivery mechanism.

And many of the people in the business of helping smaller retailers do that, are not considered an essential service - therefore many green grocers and butchers are left stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Those who're organised and set up for on line delivery can get into it, those who can't, are still penalised.

So it's not an easy time for the smaller businesses right now, the ones who've been carrying staff and stock, and not knowing how or when they can open.

As one butcher said, there are too many inconsistencies in the rules, and it's been extremely damaging to smaller businesses.