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Retail spend on the rise

Retail spending in Wairarapa has seen one of New Zealand’s biggest jumps, with the region seeing the third-largest growth rate in the past three years.
A recent Worldline report on Eftpos transactions in the region said spending had increased 21.1 per cent since 2019, triple that of Wellington with just a 6.6 per cent increase and was one of the lowest increases in New Zealand.
The report, which posted data for core retail merchants [excluding hospitality], showed that Wairarapa was behind only Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay, which had growth rates of 23.2 per cent and 21.8 per cent, respectively.
Retailers on Masterton’s Queen St said the findings tallied with a feeling that business had picked up after a couple of difficult pandemic years.
Bullick & Blackmore owner Richard McLeod said he had noticed more Wellingtonians coming over the hill at the weekend.
“They enjoy Wairarapa, they enjoy the weekend away, and that’s good for retailers.”
He attributed the success of the business to carrying a broad range of products, high-quality brands, and loyal customers.
“We’re very fortunate to have such a loyal customer base.”
Bear Flag Books and Retro owner Kate Cosgrove said she was surprised at how many people were coming into the shop.
“We have a captive audience for the weekenders on a Sunday because not many other shops are open.”
Cosgrove was looking forward to New Zealand’s first summer with overseas tourists since the pandemic.
La Fleur Florist owner Melissa Cullen said that the flower business had been blooming since the first lockdown in 2020.
“Since people couldn’t attend events, they would send flowers instead
“Flower delivery has seen a steep increase over the past two years.
“Most of our business is online.
“We’ve also seen wholesale prices increase due to international demand for flowers because of that.
“People are buying more flowers online to send to events which they can’t attend in person”.
Cullen said she was expecting a steep increase in business with international tourists returning over summer and heading into Christmas.
Destination Wairarapa general manager Anna Nielson said retail was just a part of the larger tourism story.
“Wairarapa has had success as a tourist destination, we can see that the region is performing really well.”
Destination Wairarapa received funding as part of the government’s Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, announced in late 2020.
The program funded regional tourism organisations to help ensure the survival of core tourism assets through the disruption caused by covid-19.
“It enabled us to beef up investment into domestic marketing campaigns at a time when it was really needed,” Nielson said.
Business Wairarapa general manager Nicola Belsham said that Wairarapa offered a desirable lifestyle to people trying to get out of the city.
“The fact that Wairarapa has enjoyed a boost in tourism reflects positively on all businesses.”

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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