To say the winter of 2020 has been a challenging one would be a gross understatement.
Never before have we had a situation as intrusive and disruptive on local business than the advent of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
It was always going to be difficult to estimate the economic damage the lockdowns would have on our local businesses and to this day the full impact hasn’t been realized.
You will have noted that a few of our long standing businesses in Howick Village have had to either close their doors or move to different (presumably less expensive) premises. We have conversely been fortunate enough to see some new businesses come into the Village.
This is indeed encouraging for the future.
What we can tell the public of Howick is that business revenue in the Village was dramatically affected from the first week of March.
You may recall NZ had its first confirmed Covid-19 case on the 28 February this year. By the end of March (first quarter of 2020) revenue for the Village for that quarter was down 8.6 per cent on the same period last year.
Even more devastating was that the last week of March (first week of full lockdown) business revenue was down 40 per cent on last year.
The Howick Village Business Association was in a strong position to be able to spend money before the end of last financial year on a campaign to support businesses and the local community. You will have seen posters, banner flags, billboards, thank you stickers all in support of our “Live and Love Local” campaign.
As part of this campaign, we doubled expenditure on media advertising to encourage the public to shop local. This campaign was and is designed to acknowledge and thank the enormous support we have had from our local community.
Without your support I am sure we would have seen more businesses having to close their doors. The positive response from the public was so good that by the last weeks of June, the business revenue for Howick Village was almost back to 2019 figures for the equivalent weeks.
One month of near normal trading and then in early August, we had a second round of lockdowns.
Continued support will be required to maintain an active and vibrant Village. Not surprisingly the business sector to be most adversely affected has been the café and hospitality, so we do welcome and ask for your ongoing support for these and all other businesses in your Village.
During Level 2 (and 2.5) we have had to close the Saturday morning market, however as soon as we move to Alert Level 1 we will re-open. Again, your support for these stallholders will be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, on behalf of the local businesses we ask that you keep yourself and your families safe adhere to the restrictions in place and hopefully we will move out of these lockdowns soon.
By Ken Scott, Chair HVA Inc.