By Jim Birchall
Auckland is now entrenched in a month-long lockdown, andlocal businesses are facing further uncertainty. The Pohutukawa Coast business community is made up of (in the main) small retailers, service providers, agencies, and those that run their business from home.
The PC Times approached two operators to gauge how they are coping with another prolonged period of disrupted trade, and their response was mixed.
Travel broker Michelle Cadman thinks the restrictions are a further blow to the beleaguered industry. She says many travel agents and brokers are already “surviving on a sales turnover of 5-10 per cent of that of pre-Covid times”. Cadman believes many who work within travel have either left the industry or are working part-time in other fields “to keep their head above water until we are once again able to trade.” Cadman sees the governments band-aid approach to business support as insufficient when dealing with a primary industry which (has had) “18 months of very little government assistance, apart from the wage subsidy, which doesn’t recognise our plight but rather, is only specific to lockdown issues”.
Being within an industry reliant on open international borders, Level 1 or 2 provides a small respite with domestic travel encouraged. Notwithstanding, Cadman says she has spent her time in level four “cancelling and rebooking Cook Islands and Domestic holidays for my clients”.
Brianne Bignell, selling Principal at Ray White Beachlands, is awaiting a decision on whether similar provisions to 2020s level-3 restrictions that allowed for private views from an interested party will again be restored. Open homes with larger volumes of people expected were not permitted last year- a trend that is likely to continue. Private viewings by buyers or potential buyers permitted under alert level 3 are with the written consent of the vendor and conducted under the proviso all health requirements are met, and are limited to two visits per day.
Bignell says, unfortunately her team is unable to work in the “traditional sense” due to not being designated essential, but is taking advantage of working virtually. She adds, “further lockdowns will continue to take a heavy toll for sure, not just financially but mentally and emotionally. People crave interaction and from our team’s perspective, we are all missing each other deeply. There’s only so many video calls you can make before the novelty wears off!
Bignell believes the wage subsidy is “nowhere near sufficient”, but owing to a healthy bottom-line pre-lockdown, the business has “opted not to take the subsidy up this time around – we would prefer to trade out of this situation on our own merits. The subsidy is a great option for those that need it and we certainly do not discourage people from taking it up, we just feel that from our perspective it would be better left for those who need it more than us.”