The owner of a Newmarket-based bar and restaurant says despite challenges during COVID-19, festive season turnover is on track to be around a quarter higher than last year.
It comes as COVID-19 restrictions have caused businesses' revenue to drop. Social distancing measures and single server restrictions have also increased costs, particularly within the hospitality sector.
Nuffield Bar and Kitchen owner Kate Prangnell said during COVID-19 alert levels 2 to 4, the business suffered greatly from loss of foot traffic. And now under alert level 1, people are venturing out, but they're staying close to home.
'We're seeing many people wanting to stay local and that works well for us," Prangnell said.
"Kiwis are wanting to also back locally-owned brands (e.g. Moa, Sawmill, Deep Creek and Scapegrace gin)," she added.
As with other retail and hospitality businesses, local shoppers and workers are a key source of revenue. Employees are slowly returning to workplaces, but the COVID-19 rebuild is taking time.
Under alert level 1, although the immediate focus was to hold existing turnover, Prangnell estimates festive season turnover is tracking to be around a quarter above that of last year.
"...With forward Christmas bookings, [we're] on track to surpass where we were this time last year by a factor of 25 percent," Prangnell said.
Having been in hospitality for over 15 years the former owner of FoxGlove in Wellington has been on the same Nuffield street site since 2007. Over that time, the business changed from a brew bar, to an all-day eatery.
Following a significant drop in foot traffic during COVID-19, after undergoing a period which Prangnell describes as "self-pity", she used the second lockdown to focus on a business rebuild. Following feedback from regulars, she turned the business into a bar/restaurant. She created a new menu, including craft beer and wines, and a new layout, including screens for sporting events.
"As its always important to make sure all the new systems and menus are working well, we haven't really marketed our reopening...we just softly opened our door and are really pleased with what we've experienced so far."
COVID-19 has caused people to feel nervous being around others, adding a new layer of complexity for hospitality businesses. Foot traffic dropped markedly and under alert level 1, the bounce-back is gradual.
"[There's] nervousness about going back into lockdown, the economy, the cost of COVID on Aucklanders and how that might flow in the coming 12 months," Prangnell added.
Mark Knoff-Thomas, chief executive at Newmarket Business Association, said although foot traffic dropped during COVID-19, with the NZ election now finished, Nuffield Street has turned a corner.
"After lockdown 2.0, we didn’t see the same startling surge of spend as we did after the first one, however, we're seeing some encouraging signs," Knoff-Thomas said.
"Over the coming months, we [expect] to see more activity and leasing taking place."