Monday, 20 January 2020


Hospitality businesses the big winners over summer holiday season

Whitianga businesses in the hospitality industry were the big winners over the recent Christmas/New Year’s summer holiday season, while the turnover of retail business was in general similar to, or slightly ahead of last year. Business owners are in agreement that the run of good weather played a major role in the trading conditions they’ve experienced.

Many business owners also agree that Whitianga has changed over the past few years, becoming more of a family holiday destination.

Hamish Magee, the owner of Whitianga Hardware, says summer “was good as usual.” “We were open seven days a week - only closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day - during the peak period, which was a very good decision,” he says. “Our building has had a facelift, which has made it more appealing for customers to come in and have a look around.”

Eden Clinic owner, Libby George, says they noticed that people are living healthier lives and, as a result their holiday period clients were “more organised.” “Our clients knew what they wanted, they were less frantic and demanding,” she says. “In essence we could work less without noticing a drop in turnover.”

Su Marceau, the owner of Mainly Casual and The Style Makers in Albert Street, says both her shops were very busy. “The good weather caused people to feel better and stay longer,” she says.

Su’s sentiments are echoed by Shirley Wilson, the owner of Fagan’s Furniture Beds & Homewares. “There were a lot of people around and we’ve done well, very similar to last year,” she says. “The Whitianga town centre upgrade is working well, there certainly was less congestion on the sidewalks.”

Tango’s Shoes owner, Melanie Dowling, says the good weather caused some visitors to shy away from “relaxing retail therapy.” “The weather has been fantastic for the beach, water sports and fishing, rather than shopping,” she says.

Both Mark Milmine, the owner of 100% Appliances and Ian Hogg, the Bedpost Whitianga owner, have had a good holiday season. “Summer trade was strong,” says Mark. “The major part of our lift in turnover occurred between Christmas and New Year, especially Boxing Day, which was absolutely manic.” Ian says they’ve had a busy end to 2018, after a very flat winter. “It was great seeing all the families in town this year, filling the beaches and enjoying the great weather we’ve been having,” he says. “This is what Whitianga is to me. Sun, surf, families and happy times.”

The owner of Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy, John Stephenson, says it was a good peak holiday season. “Our figures are slightly ahead of last year,” he says. “The weather was an absolute bonus, and I think the town centre upgrade is a real positive.”

The owner of Pacific Coast Marine & Diesel, Chrissie Reilly, says the recreational boating industry has also benefitted from the good peak holiday period weather. “Everyone wanted to go fishing,” she says. “We were extraordinarily busy.”  

Kelvin Jones, the owner of Espy Café on The Esplanade, says they were significantly busier than last year. “There were lots of families around, and we’ve seen a major increase in our sale of ice creams and milkshakes,” he says. “It started getting really busy before Christmas. I’ve spoken to a lot of our customers and they all thought the new Whitianga town centre upgrade came out very well, but they didn’t like the new road layout at the Campbell Street/Albert Street intersection.”

Bex Driscoll, the owner of Stoked Restaurant, and Emmanuel Koutris, the owner of Enigma Restaurant, agree with Kelvin. “We were a lot busier than last year,” says Bex. “The weather made people feel better. We’ve seen a lot of families around. Our systems have also been working really well, and we’ve had good staff assisting us. In general, we’re very happy.” Emmanuel says they’ve done significantly better than last year. “There were a lot of families in Whitianga and a lot of overseas visitors too,” he says. “People have also been happy to spend more than in previous years.”

The owner of Cathedral Cove Scenic Cruises, Ken Hindmarsh, says they, as well as all the other scenic boat tour operators, were flat out. “There were lots of people around, the weather was perfect, and the conditions were beautiful,” he says. “For us, everything was absolutely ideal.”

Glen Parker, the owner of Mercury Twin Cinemas, is very happy with their trading over the busy summer holiday period. “Every day was busy and some days it was very busy,” he says. We’ve recently upgraded the seats in our cinemas and that attracted a lot of positive comments from our customers.”

Local transport operators have also experienced a vey good summer holiday period. Gary Fitzsimons, the owner of Go Kiwi Shuttles, says for them the peak holiday period was “a perfect storm, without a storm.”

Phil Butler, the owner of Whiti City Cabs, says the high number of families spending time in Whitianga were noticeable. “Overall there were a lot of people around,” he says. “It was a very good summer holiday season. I really think consideration should be given to market Whitianga along the lines of, ‘Come to Whiti, the perfect place for a family holiday.’”

Picture: For Hamish and Sharon Magee, the owners of Whitianga Hardware, the recent Christmas/New Year’s summer holiday season “was good as usual.”


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