Council support a start - but stark reality means more needed says Chamber, RetailNZ and HospitalityNZ

The Wellington City Council’s short-term Pandemic and Protest Package for Wellington Businesses and the commitment to further business support is welcome says Wellington Chamber of Commerce, RetailNZ, and HospitalityNZ.

"This support is a start, but the stark and sobering reality for many Wellington businesses is that more must be done," says Simon Arcus, Chief Executive, Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

"We welcomed Councillor Fitzsimons’ amendments, which will ensure there will be further Council support for businesses. But this has to happen quickly - in the next few days, not weeks.

"The latest weekly spending data soberingly aligns with our snapshot survey last week. We know that around 40% of businesses are down over 50% since the shift to Traffic Light Red, with the lowest levels of business confidence we’ve seen across our historical data - net negative 45%. This all formed part of the case we made to both local and central government for urgent support.

"We know Council can do more, especially for businesses frustratingly impacted by protests and for retail, hospitality and events sectors who have been hit particularly hard by Omicron. There are times when a city has the opportunity to affirm what it values - this is one of those times."

"We welcome this initial package of support, which will make some council costs to our venues, cafes, and restaurants at no cost or just $1," says Paul Retimanu, HospitalityNZ Wellington President.

"Further rates deferral for hospitality and retail businesses which own their building, is welcomed. But further support is urgently needed as businesses are suffering. Our sectors are under significant stress - financially, as well as our people. In effect we are in a shadow lockdown, we’re missing many of our 70,000 daily commuters despite being safely open."

"Put simply Wellington retailers are doing it tough, financially they are impacted by the Red Alert Level and the impact of protestors - with those factors combined revenue is down by at least 70%. The extra impact is that of safety and mental health due to aggressive protestors coming into stores. This is not sustainable for retailers," says Aimie Hines, Retail NZ Public Affairs and Policy Advice Manager.

"This package is a start, we are encouraged by the $1 per hour weekend parking which we know will help encourage people to come back in - but retailers asked for more support. They need to see the LGWM Golden Mile and Thorndon Quay/Hutt Road projects put on hold, we know that 87% of businesses will take significant steps to reduce business operations if these projects progress. Unfortunately, this includes 32% that will close their businesses. Retailers who are the heart of this city need to be heard by Councillors, they need support and certainty in order to continue trading."