Shift to hos­pi­tal hurts re­tail­ers

Res­i­dents health­ier but sales down 20pc

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PURONGORONGO - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Toko­roa res­i­dents’ health has im­proved with the cre­ation of a one stop health shop but the shift is blamed for a down­turn in the cen­tral busi­ness district.

Four med­i­cal prac­tices and one phar­macy, pre­vi­ously lo­cated in the cen­tre of town, moved to ren­o­vated fa­cil­i­ties at the hos­pi­tal be­tween De­cem­ber 2013 and March 2014, tak­ing much needed re­tail cus­tomers with them.

Pri­mary Health Care Lim­ited busi­ness man­ager Mark Tay­lor said that, from a health per­spec­tive, the move had been amaz­ing.

Last year the three med­i­cal cen­tres owned by Pri­mary Health Care reached around 50 per cent of Mid­lands’ qual­ity tar­gets.

This year they are on track to reach about 90 per cent.

Those tar­gets in­clude en­sur­ing every­one gets ad­vice on smok­ing, a car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk as­sess­ment, di­a­betic an­nual re­view, im­mu­ni­sa­tions, vac­ci­na­tions and smears.

‘‘We’ve made re­ally good progress there,’’ Tay­lor said.

He said they have had no neg­a­tive com­ments about the lo­ca­tion but the move out of town has cer­tainly been felt by re­tail­ers.

The shift caused a shock­ing 20 per cent drop in foot traf­fic and sales for Sweet Rose Cafe and Espresso, ac­cord­ing to owner Lor­raine Young.

‘‘Ev­ery­where’’ had qui­etened a bit, she said.

‘‘ It’s very quiet, not just on Bridge St.’’

‘‘If you look at that rear carpark it’s never full now. A lot of it was im­pulse [buy­ing]. They had 20 min­utes to spare so they would pop across and maybe buy a book then come in for a cup of cof­fee. It’s small stuff but I think it still brought peo­ple in to town.’’

She said things are start­ing to ‘‘sta­bilise’’.

‘‘ We would be down about 15 per cent now.’’

The flex­i­ble busi­ness owner said ‘‘what hap­pened had to hap­pen’’.

‘‘ There’s noth­ing you can do about it and I don’t want the hos­pi­tal to close so we’ve just got to adapt I sup­pose.’’

At­lantic Books owner op­er­a­tor Greg Price can sum up his opinion of the shift in four words; ‘‘We are not happy.’’

‘‘There seems to be no plan­ning past ‘let’s move ev­ery­thing to the hos­pi­tal’,’’ he said.

He agreed sales had dropped by about 20 per cent.

‘‘I sup­pose the big dis­ap­point­ment in a town with a lot of empty shops is that the coun­cil seemed to en­cour­age them to move out and cre­ate more empty shops and there’s no plan for what to do next.’’

He said many of the prop­er­ties for lease were ask­ing ex­or­bi­tant prices.

‘‘What busi­ness set­ting up in Toko­roa in this eco­nomic cli­mate is go­ing to be able to af­ford those rents?’’

He said the coun­cil needed to see the CBD as an as­set as much as they do the roading and rub­bish col­lec­tion be­cause ‘‘no one else will’’.

‘‘It’s no point leav­ing it up to in­di­vid­ual prop­erty own­ers. It’s well known a lot of prop­er­ties be­long to out-of-town­ers who just use the empty build­ings as tax write offs.’’

Man­ner­ing and Rose­berry St busi­nesses have been af­fected too.

Bay Betta Elec­tri­cal Toko­roa man­ager Dawn Grant said it has been sad to see the loss of their elderly cus­tomers.

‘‘ The oldies we don’t get any­more . . . They’d get a taxi in to town and do all their stuff, they’d pop in and say hello and usu­ally buy some­thing.’’

Lois’ Bou­tique owner Lois Po­taka said she had never made the con­nec­tion be­tween the shift and the drop in sales.

‘‘I sup­pose it would be that, why the foot traf­fic has dropped right back.’’ She said it was un­ex­pected. ‘‘It has been a bit of an eye opener for me. I’ve al­ways ticked along OK. We do still have some re­ally busy days but it doesn’t make up for the days there’s noth­ing.’’

She said it is hard to tell when busi­ness will pick back up.

‘‘Who can tell you what’s go­ing to hap­pen next week? We just think ‘ there’s another day to­mor­row’, so we just carry on with smiles on our faces.’’

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