Closures concern to public
Internet among threats to community businesses, write Catrin Owen and Madison Reidy
Grassroots opposition is growing to supermarket, bank, post office and police kiosk closures that locals fear are gutting their neighbourhoods.
This weekend, supermarket chain Progressive Enterprises confirmed it will close its Sylvia Park Countdown in April, because its location has proved inconvenient for shoppers. In the neighbouring Auckland suburb of Ellerslie, the police station has already shut up shop. And in Wellington, residents are mobilising against the first of nearly 100 planned closures of standalone PostShops.
Main streets in suburban and smalltown New Zealand have been hard-hit by internet retails, hurting brands like fashion label Andrea Moore, children’s clothing chain Pumpkin Patch, and electronics giant Dick Smith.
The Sunday Star-Times has been supporting the embattled communities, and in 2016 revealed a list of 23 police sites that had been quietly shut down, indefinitely. That came as Westpac revealed the closure of 19 smalltown branches, ANZ revealed plans to shut down six, and Countdown announced six supermarket closures.
In a letter to staff, leaked to Star-Times this week, Countdown said it would hold individual career discussions with the affected employees. The closure was no reflection of staff performance.
Countdown operations manager Ryan McMullen confirmed the chain would not renew its lease at the large east Auckland mall and it would close its doors there permanently on April 22. The decision to pull the pin at Sylvia Park was not made lightly, he said.
Local resident Jane Bell, shopping at Countdown Sylvia Park yesterday, said she liked being able to visit grocery stores at the mall. ‘‘They’re not as busy as the main supermarkets, so it’s much quicker to do your shopping,’’
In Newtown in Wellington, residents are up in arms against an NZ Post move to shut down its Riddiford St outlet. The NZ