27 Mar 2022

Christchurch businesses 'excited about the border reopening'

6:22 pm on 27 March 2022

New businesses in Christchurch are breathing a sigh of relief at the government's recent changes to Covid-19 restrictions, after a quiet few months setting up shop.

Business open sign.

Photo: 123RF

Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson said more businesses in the city had popped up in recent months, and were in a vulnerable state with limited foot traffic.

She said it was not the first time the city had seen businesses staring in the face of adversity, with a similar situation occurring after the earthquakes.

"You do sometimes see new businesses starting up as a result of responding to an event like that in a different way," she said.

"We have really innovative business leaders in New Zealand, so I'm not surprised that we're seeing people look at this as an opportunity."

She said assurance from the government about overseas visitors returning likely had direct impacts on new small businesses.

"That may have provided some optimism for individuals to go out there and make those sorts of decisions and invest in their future, which is really positive."

While Watson applauded new business owners for coping through the recent challenges, she said easing restrictions and borders reopening would provide trade desperately needed for the region.

Ashleigh Schuyl is the owner of The Juniper Collective, a gin boutique in Christchurch which opened in November last year.

She said while trading started steadily pre-Christmas, the past month had been tough.

"We started to get regulars, staff that were working in the city that would come and get their regular gin every fortnight ... particularly in the last couple of weeks as Omicron spreading more throughout Canterbury, the foot traffic has been extremely noticeable."

"Not just my business, I think every business in the city just wants people to support local."

Schuyl said she did not hesitate to open the boutique despite the risks Covid-19 presented, because she wanted to be the first to have a store of its kind in the country.

Her goal was to appeal strongly to international tourists, with most products in the store being made in New Zealand.

"We specifically positioned ourselves in the heart of the city for that reason," she said.

"I am very excited about the border reopening."

Australians will be able to enter the country without isolating from 13 April, and those from other visa wavier countries from 2 May.

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