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Newmarket points to precinct growth amid small business concerns

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The Newmarket business association has released financial results for the precinct, hitting back at reports that the construction of the local Westfield centre had drawn customers from nearby small businesses. 

According to the data, spend in the 2019 December quarter at Newmarket increased 43 per cent on the same period the year prior to almost $198 million. Similarly, transactions rose 56 per cent. 

While sales in hospitality saw the largest rise in spending at 100.7 per cent, all categories saw an increase. Apparel and personal rose 29.6 per cent; department stores 89.7 per cent; home, hardware and electronics 13.7 per cent; fuel and automotive 23.9 per cent; and groceries and liquor 21.5 per cent. 

“We’re thrilled to see Newmarket thriving,” NBA chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas said. 

“[And] we’re pleased to note that once we prorated Westfields contribution out of the quarter, it still showed with spend up by 5.8 per cent and only a slight 1.2 per cent decline in transactions.”

In a report on Radio New Zealand, Retail NZ chief executive said that while the $790 million shopping mall’s purpose is to attract shoppers, it’s likely to be a short term distraction from the traditional high street. 

“It’s designed to be a magnet,” Harford said. 

“I think people will flock there initially to see what’s there – new stores, new restaurants, and so forth – but in the long term there will be an opportunity for people to head back out to surrounding streets.”

However, Harford admitted there are legitimate concerns among small businesses in the region. 

“There is a finite market for retail consumption. It’s always going to be a rearranging of where people shop, rather than necessarily growth.”

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