Shift to hospital hurts retailers
Residents healthier but sales down 20pc
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.’’