13 Dec 2023

Roadworks hamper AKL businesses' Christmas rush

From Checkpoint, 5:53 pm on 13 December 2023
Roadworks on Great North Road in Grey Lynn on 13 December 2023.

Roadworks on Great North Road in Grey Lynn on 13 December 2023. Photo: RNZ / Louise Ternouth

Businesses along Auckland's Great North Road say roadworks are turning customers away during the crucial pre-Christmas period.

The roadworks began last month as part of Auckland Transport's Great North Road project delivering walking, cycling and bus improvements over the next two years.

Some businesses are so sick of waiting for customers to walk through the door,they have decided to take their business on the road.

It is not quite business as usual at the moment for Doe Donuts.

Co-owners Shenine Dube and Grace Tauber would normally be at their main store on Great North Road in Grey Lynn.

But for the past month roadworks from Auckland Transport's walking cycling and bus improvement project have been going on right outside their door.

Tauber said this was affecting parking and putting off customers.

"It's just causing absolute havoc in the area there's road cones in places where literally nothing happens all day from 9am to 5pm, and it's just a waste."

Doe Donuts co-owners Shenine Dube and Grace Tauber.

Doe Donuts co-owners Shenine Dube and Grace Tauber. Photo: RNZ / Louise Ternouth

Instead of waiting for customers to come through the door, for the past few weeks, twice a week they have taken their doughnuts to the road, parking up their pink van near offices in South Auckland and Britomart.

"We just thought it would be a good idea to make ourselves more accessible to our customers rather than expecting them to come to us and we have this great van, we see coffee carts and sushi trucks drive around to offices all the time, so we thought, why can't we do it."

On Tuesday morning they were at Plunket Ave in Manukau, where many office workers were lining up for a sweet treat.

Tauber said because of the roadworks they now had nowhere close to park, which was causing safety issues for staff.

"Our staff start at 5am, sometimes earlier if we've got really busy days and it's just not safe for us girls to be parking at that sort of time blocks away from the actual shop."

The roadworks will pause for the holiday period on 15 December before starting up again on 3 January next year. Tauber said that did not make sense from a business perspective.

"I mean, it would make more sense if they worked over the quiet period so that businesses could actually get more business."

Roadworks on Great North Road in Grey Lynn on 13 December 2023.

Roadworks on Great North Road in Grey Lynn on 13 December 2023. Photo: RNZ / Louise Ternouth

A few doors down, Mary-Jane Heather - who owns Rose and Heather furniture - echoed this concern.

"Right on Christmas so it will be late then, for me anyway, for sales."

The business has customer parking around the back of the building but Heather said the roadworks and lines of cones put people off even stopping.

When Checkpoint visited she joked she was in gym clothes because she had doubts there would be any customers that day.

"I'm expecting no one in this week at all, didn't have anybody in last week, there's no one around, just cars trying to get through the traffic, did you see anyone on the streets?"

Across the road at Better Me Espresso Cafe, owner Vicky said business was down about 20 percent.

She said compensation from Auckland Transport or the government while the roadworks continued would ensure the business could stay afloat, something she said was not guaranteed right now.

"I'm not sure how many businesses around here could survive especially small businesses like us. It would be nice when it is done, [but] between now and then, how are we going to survive it?"

They raised concerns about parks in front of their shop being blocked off and have managed to keep a few.

But they are only for 10 minutes each and the side streets that customers used to use are now inaccessible.

The noise from the roadworks was also a major issue.

"It is just really loud I think they probably start around 8am and then finish around 2pm or 3pm."

On Auckland Transport's website, it said it has retained parking on Great North Road where possible but had to decrease some spaces to improve intersections, extra car parks on side streets have been created along with five large loading zones for businesses.

The main construction for the Great North Road improvements is set for the start of 2024 through mid-2025.