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Covid alters Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 8:43 am, November 3rd, 2021 - 22 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, covid-19, Economy, health, public transport, trade, transport - Tags:

With in-person shopping about to re-start in Auckland next week, this is the best moment we will have to reinvent Auckland: one customer at a time.

It will likely not affect our other cities, but Auckland is over 33% of our population and nearly 40% of our GDP. It matters.

At the moment NZPost is so slammed with courier requests that it has simply stopped any couriers across Auckland. But NZPost and others will catch up with market demand.

This is just one way that needless short-journey car trips can be cut wayyy down.

I will never be darkening the door of a supermarket again, since getting it all delivered is now simply a part of ordinary life. No one enjoys it, and “place of interest” has taken on a whole different meaning.

There will be a lot of ma and pa retailers and minor suburban shop-groups who are about to die, as are a lot more marginal shops inside malls. It’s an acceleration of what’s been occurring already.

  • Auckland life is about to change, one key stat at a time:
  • Will public transport return to anywhere near what it was? This may have implications for Auckland’s PT investment.
  • Will morning-peak car commuting plateau even further? There’s greater ability and reason to work from home.
  • Will mid and high end restaurants die faster than they have been? Maybe more takeaways, take-out and picnic-style is here to stay and for more days of the week.
  • Will crime stay suppressed? Will we grow less tolerant of social infractions generally?
  • Will COVID accelerate the decline of mainline church and mosque attendance due to unmanageable risk?
  • Will other clustered indoor activities like cinemas, bowling alleys, gyms, concerts, political rallies, and public meetings fade fast? Will they simply become rare events? And how will they be replaced?
  • Will more students opt to stay home and be taught from home primarily on line?
  • Will the above conserve total energy use and help achieve our climate goals as both consumers and as citizens?
  • Will the above make us simply less wasteful and more inclined to have a lot more materials storage at home?
  • Will we become more focused in organising ‘together time’ to ensure that when we get to engage, we do so with real purpose and good spirit?

With years into the future of COVID’s effect on Auckland, we may as well anticipate the changes that are observed around us already.

Much of the change is exceedingly disorienting and destabilising. Some of them are good. Either way it’s looking permanent.

22 comments on “Covid alters Auckland ”

  1. roy cartland 1

    Imagine if Auckland become a series of villages, separated by the parks and forests that have grown up through defunct carparks and malls. You worked, shopped, played and lived locally. Visiting the next village took a bit of thought, and as such was a meaningful day out. People got to know their neighbours. Food was able to be grown and sold hyper-locally.

    That's what I saw in many parts of Switzerland, they seem to be doing alright. (WW2 gold and it's central-euro location notwithstanding.)

  2. Now is the time for free PT for all students and community card holders. We are importing record numbers of ebikes and scooters, way more than the numbers of fossil fuel vehicles. There are some big trends at play. AT needs to get on board.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    I want to know if the media are looking in the scandalous shrinking of pants that has occurred over lockdown. Most people I know are reporting this phenomena.

  4. Ad 4

    And now our headline unemployment rate gets to 3.4%.

    That's the lowest level since the start of the GFC in 2008.

    Labour crunch: NZ unemployment hits lowest level on record – NZ Herald

    So before National and Act weep about the Auckland shopkeepers again, a better message is: hey boss, time for a pay rise. Ain't no one else left to do what you're asking.

  5. Patricia Bremner 5

    Those who have had income from passive commercial investments might find they have commercial rates insurance and earthquake strengthening to face with less chance of long term tenants as firms change to smaller Head Office premises, with teams working remotely. The days of call centres and open plan offices are numbered.

    Many businesses will find they need to develop "Outdoor Venues" with roofing against sun/rain but with excellent fresh air. Open air markets with stalls rather than huge malls will have far more appeal to attract shoppers back, with food stations and seating outside and in each corner where people may coffee eat and people watch.

    Just as we now rate homes for their standards we will develop air quality flow and capacity restraints for commercial indoor activities. This airborne virus will not be the last one we encounter, so new ways will be developed monitored and kept if they are successful in helping suppression.

    But in the immediate future people will want to connect with family and friends, where the BBQ picnics and outdoor tables will be popular spots. Some will be even more hermit like in their behaviour, but most will want the connection with others who have been locked down for eleven long weeks. I predict beaches parks lakefronts and open air garden centres will be popular meeting places, so Councils have to allow licences for stalls mobile food trucks pavement tables and other helpful changes to assist businesses to run online and customer contact methods mostly free from transmission.

    Almost all families used to have a way to check who was at the door. How will we all feel about casual visits by friends family and others? Perhaps outside seating and covered decks may be the next "thing" Life has changed so Auckland will adjust.

    In past pandemics plumbing was hugely improved as was drinking water to overcome cholera, brass was used widely for taps door knobs as germs did not do well on brass. So we will find ways to mitigate this virus, our best current way being vaccination to mitigate effects, improving immunity health and developing boosters and viral treatment to also shorten the impact. The biggest change may be remote working and shopping online. Cities have been the powerhouses of the past, will technology climate change and pandemics force a rethink of that model?

  6. RedLogix 6

    There will be a lot of ma and pa retailers and minor suburban shop-groups who are about to die, as are a lot more marginal shops inside malls.

    I'd argue you're talking about two different things here. I agree that the generic franchisee in the malls are in trouble. People are bored with them and they're locked into a race to the bottom.

    But ma and pa operations have a future because they can define their own product or service and offer something a bit different and interesting. There will remain a healthy demand for that.

    But otherwise yes the era of the big box retailer and associated malls may well have peaked. Most blokes will not weep much.

    • Graeme 6.1

      The small ma and pa retailer may be able to change their offering, but they still have to have potential customers walking through the door. In our current phase post covid these opportunities are just not there. The engaged people who are the independent retailer’s market are staying away from potential infection. This could take some time to turn around. Most will move to be mostly/ totally online

      Partner was talking to our accountant today, he’s longtime local and senior in the largest practice in town, their advice is that tourist focused retail won’t be viable in our lifetimes. A small, highly independent domestic market is all that’s likely.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Yes that's useful information and I can see where you're coming from.

        On a hopeful note, here in WA I've been on my own for over six months now, working long days and nights – so I've been eating out a fair bit more than usual. What's vividly clear is how the franchise outlets are dead, but family owned cafes, kitchens and bars are flat out booming.

        Getting and keeping staff is their biggest problem – not customers.

    • roblogic 6.2

      Agree 100%. The humungous new Westfield in Newmarket is an abomination and you have to sign up for a hideous westfield app for the privilege of parking there (or pay $15). They are designed to trap people in and get them disoriented. The cult of consumerism is antithetical to nature.

      • RedLogix 6.2.1

        They are designed to trap people in and get them disoriented.

        Lol – I made a pilgrimage of sorts to what was at one time the largest mall of it's kind in North America – West Edmonton

        It was worth doing once – and quite fascinating. And yes it took me a good three quarters of an hour to find the correct exit to get to my car.

      • tc 6.2.2

        Known as the gruen transfer i.e. the point at which you lose focus and behave impulsively.

        Also a tv show where advertising folk explain the craft and funny with Will Anderson's comic talents as host.

  7. I must say Ad your leader made me very inspired. Then I thought 'nah', this is Auckland and Aucklanders we are talking about. So stereotypic I know but there seems to me to be a large focus by some on shopping, going to restaurants, car driving all over Auckland no matter how far away, mall going etc.

    My prediction is that some Aucklanders will just let rip. This will be across Auckland in all socio economic groups, perhaps surprisingly, or not, the ones who have been most patient and law abiding during the long lockdown. They may not be able to see any good signs/parts to keep on with from the lockdowns, they will throw the baby out with the bathwater. to them keeping any way of life from the lockdown with be an anathema and a reminder of 'hard' times.

    Many around where I live (central Wellington) are still living a very restricted life by choice even though in theory we don't need to.

    Many face to face meetings or groups are cancelled or on Zoom, cinemas have seating restrictions, people at restaurants are choosing to eat at outside tables or, when inside, at the required table spacings are pulling their tables further away. People are still working from home if they can by choice, though some of this is driven by not wanting to risk while there no vaccination mandates.

    Groups that do get together in person are spaced and mask wearing inside.
    Mask wearing outside is still at a high rate by choice. Many still get their groceries delivered, by choice. Others have found suppliers of other goods that deliver and are using those by choice.

    There are sign ins/scans, hygiene requirements in most/all the shops etc I go to and restrictions on numbers in others (library, cinema, supermarket). In short people are still being careful.

    One of the good things from our lockdown last year that was lost in Wellington was the regaining of 'normal' levels of pollution from motor vehicles in central Wellington testing sites.

    In short I would love to be proved wrong and for some of the blessings that have come from the lockdowns to be perpetuated.

    I especially want to be proved wrong as I would've liked to segue into some measures of a response to climate change from this new life we will lead with Covid.

    • Ad 7.1

      Yes we will certainly 'let rip' until the Boxing Day sales are over.

      It's after that we'll see the changes really hit.

      • Shanreagh 7.1.1

        Hope that we do see some changes. The constant unproductive moaning by many is not a very fertile field to effect lasting changes on, more likely to lead straight back to BAU.

        I am tired of the clamour of anti vaxxers, other doom sayers and the sky will fall down crowds.

        The traffic light system and the vaccine passports cannot come fast enough for me.

        I must admit having an OMG moment reading the moans by an Aucklander, hopefully atypical and may have been a joke but no evidence so far. In a post berating me for commenting on the level 3 step change

        She cannot:

        have her hair cut

        have a manicure and pedicure

        go on date nights to the movies with her spouse

        her cleaner has not come for 10 weeks

        she and spouse cannot go to Melbourne as they usually do in November

        she and her spouse cannot even go to New Plymouth.

  8. coreyjhumm 8

    I get what you mean but I don't think ultimately in-store shopping will die. It will always exist. I'd much rather give my money to local business.

    If we just go online forever, all the revenue from retail will go to untaxed maga corporations who union bust and sell cheap products made in china from workers with bad workers rights.

    There may be some kiwi outlets who do well online but it'll mostly be evil companies like Amazon.

    I'd rather the money be put in local economy rather than a multinational giant.

    Also with climate change and covid is it still even reasonable to have our goods manufactured on the other side of the world when ships might not be able to get goods into our country during a crisis and the carbon footprint of having them come from the other side of the world and what if china one day says no sorry we're not going to send you the goods you need or even infrastructure equipment.

    Surely local manufacturing needs to be brought back in some capacity in western nations. Look at the fall out and division and quality of life drops since we ditched local for cheap international trade.

    America couldn't even produce masks last year.. MASKS… covid has shown how easily globalization of trade and capital can bring nations to disaster, what if the next pandemic is worse.

    Not to mention the scarcity of conducting metals due to china's wasteful cheap short term electronics manufacturing. I'd much rather pay more for something that lasts long and can be upgraded easily rather than thrown away and surely it'd be better for the environment making stuff than can be made local rather than adding the carbon footprint of Shipping it from overseas on top of it's carbon footprint of manufacture.

    Retail won't die. People crave social interaction.

    Wait times, extra cost of delivery and the inability to try clothes on before you buy as well as buying from a company that employs people locally make me prefer shopping via multinats or indeed trademe.

    Going to the shop is the only thing a lot of people look forward to atm.

    Also you can't do hospo or pubs or restraunts or cafes online. Gigs,art music social interaction, dates aren't going anywhere I just hope enough people get vaccinated before the traffic light system comes into effect.

    It's a horrible world atm but there's hope a more local business and a more sustainable world is created but in the process of protecting ourselves we lost arts culture food and dining, music, comedy , the ability to go on a date with a stranger and make a connection, local businesses and social interaction it'd be a sad cold nasty lifeless world.

    We absolutely do need to upgrade our online shopping infrastructure and allow local businesses to flourish online but I hope covid does not destroy physical stores.

    Quite frankly I never know if clothing is ugly on me till I try it on

    • Shanreagh 8.1

      Of course…you make good points. I buy local, go to shops, including smaller cafe style ones with indoor and outside tables and larger ones where the tables always have been further apart. When I buy on line it has been off TM or the supermarket, plant places, sometimes book stores. I do much more looking for and reserving books at home for our libraries as visits are limited to 30mins. Films where we are spaced.

      I can see how people will be looking forward to Tuesday/Wednesday.

      I am enthused by Ads points but still feel reflection about the good things about lockdowns won't be high in the minds of many people except perhaps those who are still living a careful life even though we are in lower lockdown levels.

      I cherish the fact that the lockdowns enabled/allowed/forced(?) people to live more simple lives. My hope is that some may continue this. Regenag, self sufficiency, sustainability etc are the things I hope won’t be lost. People may have learned to garden, to work with neighbours more than usual and these will stand them in good stead for the future.

      Plus work on Ad’s points.

  9. Adrian 9

    Along those lines Corey is the fact that there is a world wide shortage of magnesium, affecting huge swathes of manufacturing especially EVs. How the rest of the world managed to let China monopolise 87% of the worlds production of magnesium is beyond belief. Premier Li’s gamble on Aussie coal caused the massive drop off in power production and factories had to close. Good for the planet but bad for future planning, we need to ramp up renewables and produce more at home.

  10. Patricia Bremner 10

    Further points about manufacturing at home. Surely some of the everyday meds could be made here rather than bring them all the way from India. Apparently people are already booking flights to go overseas as soon as possible. So reverting to type and ignoring others suffering may be rife. I just watched an overseas football (soccer) game. Huge crowds all shouting, shoulder to shoulder…. so waiting to see how it all pans out.

    • Ad 10.1

      Our big local manufacturer is Douglas Pharmaceuticals in Henderson. A major generics manufacturer.

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