16: A Retail Renaissance?


What if Topshop Topman was just the beginning?

Over the past year or so there has started to be some recognition in the media that change is afoot in the central city retail scene (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11269705http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11262222 ) . Queen Street in particular, much-maligned for many years as the home of tacky souvenir and $2 shops, is really stepping up. Later this year, we can expect a number of new retail openings. These include a number of new to NZ flagship stores, including Topshop Topman, Prada, Dior and Camper, all opening along and just off Queen Street.

Wouldn’t it be great if this was just the tip of the iceberg in invigorating the city centre’s retail scene?  Historically, Aucklanders used to flock to the shops in town on late nights and weekends. Is this likely to start happening again? Would more global brands such as the middle market, fast fashion stores many New Zealanders shop at on international holidays help achieve this?

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  1. That is my hope. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the retail scene around Auckland CBD.

    Such an exciting time!

  2. Completely agree. Already see now how busy weekends are in town. Will certainly help Aucklands reputation as an international city and draw more people in along with our Nz brands.

    Other places on my wish list are a Lego, Apple, Disney, forever 21, Giorgio Armani, dolce and gabbana stores. These would appeal to higher spending tourists.

    Will be interesting where these places could be located? The bank opposite whitcoulls would be a good h&m for its large floor plan. It would compliment the top shop across the road making it great shopping crossroad.

    125 queen st (the old Bnz) is another option. It’s been empty 2 years now. Perhaps it could be a luxury brand Mecca will some clever reworking.

  3. Would certainly help create more buzz to the city for sure.

    As well as these increased retail options, it would be great if things could be added to the cities nightlife mix like a live soul/ jazz bar (1885 and Orleans have shown how great live music can be), an amusement park and some sort of night market shopping. Wynard Quarter currently has some which are great but need expanding.

    I think the other current night markets around the city are fantastic and just add to the options of things to do at night other than bars.

  4. Personally on’t get the appeal of H&M, but a Uniqlo and American Apparel would be nice. IIRC the American Apparel store on Oxford Street in Sydney is quite low-key so I’m not sure how much impact a local store would have compared to the others..

    1. Britomart has a nz version (I assume its a nz company) of American apparel just selling basics called AS colours. We don’t always need international brands.

        1. Yes true. I like the idea of local brands stepping up to an international standard like icebreaker have done.

  5. Agree with @Rharris “we don’t always need international brands”. Why would tourists bother with shops they get at home? Premier NZ brands with flagship stores in the heart of the city would be a great draw card, many already are but could do with a makeover or larger scale. Imagine a larger combined Hallenstines Glassons to rival the soon to open Topshop/Topman.

    1. “Why would tourists bother with shops they get at home?” According to retail expert Bob Gibbs (who spoke at an Auckland Conversation) this is exactly what loaded travelers want to- shop at recognisable high end stores while traveling overseas. Doesn’t make any sense to me either. More money than sense, etc.

  6. I totally absolutely disagree. Why on earth would you want global brands coming to Auckland? Why would you want the retail experience here to be exactly the same as every other country? I lived for years in the UK, and every High St in every town had the same boring predictable line-up: Top Shop, Body Shop, H&M, C&A, Marks and Sparks, Starbucks, McDonalds, Boots the Chemist, etc etc. Every town becomes bland-ville, and there is little point going anywhere for regional difference. Yuck.

    That’s what I love about New Zealand – well, certainly in Wellington – there is almost no Starbucks, and instead there is a plethora of funky little individual coffee companies; there is no Top Shop, and instead there is Working Style in Auckland and Alexander’s in Napier and Munns in Wellington; and for burgers we have Burger Fuel, Meat Bar Grill, Wisconsin Burger, etc – it’s the individuality that is the spice of life.

    Normally these ideas of Stuarts are good and clever and right on the money – this one is just so wrong!

    1. I agree with you Guy. These shops aren’t interesting, they are just big. H&M and topshop sell trashy knockoffs of the latest fashions at slave-labour induced prices. American Apparel is a t-shirt shop that got cool by exploitative advertising. Dunno about uniqlo and zara but they’ve never looked that interesting from the couple of times I;ve wandered through.

      DO we really want these big chains homogenising our local clothing/fashion scene?

    2. My take on this is that international brands draw locals and tourists. People want familarity. There’s no escaping it. They sell. Boutique stores are generally off the main strip. They are the independent cafes and shops that people enjoy and give another option. The key is to find balance in the retail mix so it’s an exciting and varied place. Britomart do this well and high street needs a jump start. Boutique stores should be more in these 2 areas. Queen st should have both foreign and Nz flagship stores.

      I don’t think people need to be completely seduced by foreign brands and thinking it is the only answer. I remember reading people wanted a David jones here when smith and caughey is ok and improving. I would sometimes rather support established quality nz business.

      It’s also good to see the banks on queen st losing their presence and stepping up their game in their offerings to queen st like Bnz and westpac.

  7. what about an ikea pop-up store. It sells things that suit apartment living. Stores that cater for people who live in apartments, so that they don’t need to venture into deep dark suburbia

      1. Thank god – I was excited about Ikea when I moved to Vancouver, but you have to go to the worst of it (suburban hell) to get there (furthest point on the skytrain + a bus). I waited 25 minutes in the baking sun for a bus back to the skytrain. They delivered same day though, which was nice. That was for some furniture basics, but having handy access to all their knicknacks (and cheap plants!) would be excellent.

  8. A Disney store would be great for lower Queen Street. I know my 4 year old would love to catch the train into town for lunch and to visit Disney.

  9. What I would love is shops that are open late every night. Even 8pm would be a start, 9 or 10 even better.

    It amazes me that so many shops close at 5pm, just before a hundred thousand workers and students hit the streets to make their way home or head out for food, drinks or groceries. Seriously, it’s like the shop owners try to avoid selling their products.

    There is also an army of tertiary students for two unis and various schools that would love to pick up a three or four hour shift after class.

    Want a point of difference City retailers? Be the place that is always open. Come 6pm there is a massive glut of transport capacity of all kinds to the city centre, and approximately 1.8 billion empty carparks. Why let the Westfield late night roster have all the fun?

  10. I don’t know if I want UNIQLO here. It was one of the first places I went to for some clothing my second time round in Japan but while there are many, many things I love about Japan, UNIQLO is not one of them. They are cheap, and pretty cheap-looking too. We already have Hallensteins, K-mart, and even it could be said for some of their brands Farmers for some cheaper menswear options. We don’t need UNIQLO. It’s a shop which would add nothing here IMO. Having said that I still have a UNIQLO long-sleeve tee from that first UNIQLO shopping trip….nine years ago!

  11. Nothing wrong with UNIQLO. They along with IKEA, H&M etc, are the future for Auckland / NZ. The Warehouse, Freedom Furniture, Farmers, KMart and Hallensteins, are like Auckland’s diesel engine-hauled passenger trains – old rolling stock that are way past their use-by date and ready to be put out to pasture.

    1. I see Auckland as a place where local and global brands co-exit, although the standard of the local stores will probably need to lift to compete with the global brands.

      In much the same way that coffee retailing has evolved in Wellington, which had a number of Starbucks stores that is now scaled back to 2 (?) and the local brands have taken up the charge with Mojo expanding to Auckland.

    2. UNIQLO is the future of Auckland/NZ???? Excuse me while I go and puke! They are a discount menswear store. If I want discounted, lower quality lines I can go the places I mentioned previously. If we’re going to invite other overseas brands here let’s try and attract those that are even half decent. At least IKEA quality is not too bad. The fabric UNIQLO used when I shopped with them was mostly cheap synthetics like polyester-nylon mixes for most of their shirts etc. Even the quality of the cotton used in lines with it wasn’t close to the standard of the better NZ menswear retailers. Having worked in menswear for Rodd & Gunn I know what better quality fabric is about. As I said first time round, if we’re going to have more international brands arounds, let’s make sure they actually add something. On the topic of cheap Japanese places, we’ve already got the Japanese version of the $2 shop with Family Daiso near Event Cinemas. Full of mostly useless, but sometimes vaguely hilarious and interesting items.

    3. Bahahaha! What nonsense. Homogenisation is NOT the future. Australia’s retail scene is blanding up big time with all the big brands moving in. It’s really quite tedious and the stuff on offer is nothing special.

      New Zealand has plenty of home-grown, unique purveyors of shit. Briscoes is far far better than colourless, poor quality and infuriating IKEA. Hallensteins and a few Oz imports take care of affordable men’s clothing (Uniqlo ain’t what it used to be).

      Seriously, if we’re just going to cut and paste everything then what’s the point? Blah lives in a blah world? No thanks.

  12. I’m going to be a weirdo and list the kind of things that would make me real happy to see in Auckland’s central city.

    1) Themed Cafes. (Cat Cafes, Book Cafes etc.)
    2) A Market street that sells all kinds of cheap food and produce everyday along a lane.
    3) Vending machines. Not everyone wants or has time to stop at a cafe.
    4) More hobby stores. (Anime/Gaming/Comics/Karaoke)
    5) More decor along the streets. Lights hanging over the lanes or some flags and better lighting.
    6) Shops shutting at 9pm instead of 5pm.
    7) Electronic billboards
    8) Maybe even some music beats playing during the day and evening.
    9) Some green open space on top of some rooftops to escape the artificial environment
    10) And lastly completely removing the hideous little lanes and eliminating or even narrowing Queen Street.

    I would be incredibly tempted to live in the middle of Auckland if the city was like that.

    1. I agree with you on everything except your comment against lanes.

      I see lanes as adding a human scaled element to big cities. When the lanes were created at the Re:Start mall in Chch they were a huge success and everyone (including the developer) wants them replicated in the new Cashel Street development.

      And of course the very successful lanes in Melbourne. The only shame is that we have so many nice lanes in Auckland off Queen Street that are just used to move and store cars. They are a point of difference from the wide street suburban model. Even malls try to recreate that lane/arcade experience.

      Also see the success of Vulcan Lane. Would you rather wide streets like Queen or Albert with no people scaled interaction at all.

      1. I meant lanes like Durham Lane. With cars parked along it. Not the wonderful shared lanes.

        My fault. I still think of lanes as narrow roads.

    2. Interesting comment about electronic billboards. One of things I noticed the most after coming back to Auckland from Japan, was how little electronic advertising there was in Auckland’s CBD and how dark our CBD was in comparison with the major cities over there. Conversely the smaller towns in Japan are very dark with a lot less street lighting. When I asked why a Japanese friend said that it’s not needed (from a seeing your way home late at night on a bike pov I disagreed with him hence my question) as the area was safe from crime and putting more lights in would indicate a security problem in the neighbourhood!

  13. The issue is, currently finding car park in city is very expensive and hard, and commute by public transport is not very convenient after work hours. So people would rather to go suburb’s large shopping mall for shopping.

    As soon as the public transport to city become convenient, affordable and day & night;
    people will start to travel to city to do shopping. Which will drive profit, and then more shops and brands will open, then the city will become vibrant, which will attract more people, then more profit, better shops, better cafe, better bars, more people, then more apartments, then more people….. so it forms a positive cycle.

    That is what happened to the other big cities with good public transport to CBD. The city is always packed and vibrant, and shops, restaurant and bars opens 24 hours a day.

  14. I get pretty disappointed at some of the pro-capitalist claptrap being propounded on a supposedly pro-public transport blog.

    Adding yet more places for people to waste their money and make a few shopkeepers rich is NOT the recipe for a “liveable city”

    1. Huh? It’s a forum for discussion. Pretty disappointing that you consider opposing ideas as “pro-capitalist claptrap”. And I hate to break it to you, but no system being advocated by any party in New Zealand does away with capitalism. If you have a problem with that, there’s this viper’s den of a site called “The Standard” that would likely welcome you with open arms.

  15. Great to know Prada and Dior are opening soon. Would love to see Giorgio Armani, Versace and Burberry! Auckland is becoming a true international city great for locals and tourists.

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