Newmarket: The Auckland shopping district that's raked in record spending

Business is booming in Auckland's Newmarket.

The retail destination raked in $187 million in the March quarter - in stark contrast to the abandoned streets during COVID-19 lockdowns.

COVID-19 was a period that cost Todd Male his retail store Route 66 - well, almost.

"Didn't have a shop presence for one year and had been operating out of a basement - a dungeon - and it worked," Male told Newshub Late.

He had to let go of the original Route 66 location but has now taken a leap of faith, opening a pop-up store further down the Broadway strip.

"I was nicely taken back by the number of customers who said, 'Great to see you back' and we actually had a really busy weekend," Male said.

That optimism is reflected in new figures from the Newmarket Business Association. The shopping district raked in a record-breaking $187 million in the March quarter, up 15.8 percent on the previous year.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas puts it down to the area's reputation as a retail mecca.

"[It's] maybe a vote of confidence in a precinct that's performing pretty well," he told Newshub Late.

A nearly billion-dollar redevelopment of Westfield mall has helped. But the Broadway strip itself is making a comeback.

Two years ago, the vacancy rate on the strip was 25 percent - but that's now dropped to 16 percent, with multiple sites being snapped up.

Lisa Thompson has been hard at work setting up her new Wilson & Dorset store on Broadway.

"It just felt right here; really good neighbours, good foot traffic, right beside the train station - [it] feels pretty alive," she said.

Knoff-Thomas said 2023 has been "the best year we've had so far".

But ASB senior economist Mark Smith said the record-spending figure in Newmarket has been boosted by inflated prices.

"The thing is also, consumer spending has been doing very well until recently. However, the headwinds facing the household sector are set to grow this year."

So, a spending boom - or just really high prices?

Either way, retailers like Todd Male are just happy to be in business and see Broadway bustling once again.