'Massively busy': Mangawhai fashion retailers cash in on Auckland holidaymakers

Photo of Mangawhai Heads retail store Shizazz.
The owner of Mangawhai Heads-based retail outlet Shizazz said summer sales well exceeded expectations. Photo credit: File.

Auckland holidaymakers haven't held back on splashing their cash this summer, with two Mangawhai-based fashion retailers saying sales are exceeding expectations.  

Last year, COVID-19 restrictions caused spending - including retail sales - to drop. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of economic activity, fell by a record 12.2 percent fall in the June 2020 quarter. 

But spending continues to bounce back. Statistics NZ electronic card data shows retail spending reached $7.4 billion in December - a 3.4 percent increase year-on-year. 

Clothing spending was up 8.2 percent to $501 million.

After support for buying locally increased, Lyndal Bowen opened dimity boutique, a Mangawhai-based fashion business stocking clothing made by top Kiwi designers including Sylvester, Cooper, Staple & Cloth, Nyne, and Loobie's Story.

Since opening in October, the store has performed well. Over the December/January holiday period, Bowen hoped that, in addition to relaxing at the bach and beach, Mangawhai holidaymakers would find time for shopping. 

She hasn't been disappointed.

"It's been massively busy: there have been traffic jams outside the store, especially on market days - I surprised myself that I hadn't ordered enough," Bowen said.

Locals typically stay away during the holiday season, but her business has rallied plenty of support - particularly from Aucklanders.

"Feedback from customers is 'thank god you've done it' - busy working people often don't get time to go to shops in Auckland, [but] they've got time in the holidays," Bowen added.

In nearby Mangawhai Heads, just over five minutes' drive from Mangawhai village, retailers experienced similar crowds. Carol Kite, who took over Shizazz fashion boutique in November (to be renamed 'Inspire by Design'), said holiday sales were a lot higher than expected.  

"We had projections of what we hoped to do in December [and] January and sales well-surpassed expectations," Kite said.

Stocking quality fashion labels, Kite saw an opportunity to cater to younger crowds visiting for the Northern Bass festival, which brought around 15,000 people into the Mangawhai area. She introduced childrenswear and menswear and brought in linen and silk from Italy.   

"We've been blown away - we change the window daily, refresh things and taking on existing staff has also been a big bonus," Kite added.

Current projections show January sales are on-track to match December.

"People are staying up here longer, working from their homes and baches and are keen to support local."

Retailers in Mangawhai Heads experienced an influx of holiday makers in January.
Retailers in Mangawhai Heads experienced an influx of holiday makers in January. Photo credit: File.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said similar to other towns within a couple of hours' drive from the city, Mangawhai is benefiting from the increasing population of locals and visitors.

"While the borders remain closed, interest rates remain low, and assuming no further lockdown, Retail NZ expects spending to continue on its current path."