Auckland hospitality and retail businesses prepare to welcome back customers

Auckland hospitality and retail businesses have spent the last day of level 3 preparing to welcome customers back through their doors.

The sectors have been hit particularly hard by the second lockdown - and will rely heavily on people wanting to support local.

After a soft-opening earlier this month, Mt Eden pub Churly's was ready to welcome Auckland's craft beer fans.

"We'd planned to do our official saying we were open, announcing it on the Wednesday. And obviously on the Tuesday night, lockdown was announced," says operations manager Hannah Childs.

Instead, Andrew and Hannah Childs have had to run Churly's as a takeaway.

"You really have to pivot like Ross Geller trying to get a sofa up a flight of stairs," says Andrew, Churly's managing director.

Or even be a little more light-footed than Ross in that famous scene. And it's friends the hospitality sector needs back through the doors.

Under level 2 bars can re-open but customers have to be seated and spaced out - and gatherings are limited to 10 people.

It means Churly's will be running at 40 percent capacity.

The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the second wave of COVID. Hospitality New Zealand estimates 10 percent of bars will have to close in the next few weeks.

Retail's also desperate for level 2.

Auckland spending's dropped by 44 percent during level 3, compared to the same time last year.

Record store Real Groovy has run a click-and-collect service - but misses the regulars coming in and having a browse.

"People find things they don't expect to find when they come in-store, whereas on the website you kind of search for things you're already looking for," says retail assistant Samantha Webb.

Yesterday was Record Store Day - a worldwide annual celebration of independent stores.

The four-day level 3 extension meant Real Groovy had to cancel in-store events - on a day that usually pays their bills through until Christmas.

"We definitely did very well, but yeah, could've done better had the restrictions not been in place," Webb says.

Restrictions that once lifted tonight, will hopefully see customers rushing back through the doors.