15 May 2020
Despite the queues and the busy carparks, people appeared to be accustomed to and comfortable with physical distancing and customers were mindful of the need not to crowd each other inside and outside the stores.
Dave Hargreaves, owner/operator and manager of Mitre 10 MEGA stores in Westgate and Henderson, said it was a welcome sight to see their regular customers and team members reconnecting, and everyone enjoyed being back instore.
“A lot of people commented that they were ‘back in their happy place’ and pleased to be supporting a locally owned business. Some said they felt almost a sensory overload after weeks in lockdown - the garden centres are in full bloom and looking lush, which may have contributed to that.
“The measures we put in place to ensure physical distancing and increased hygiene had our customers and our team feeling safe and secure, and there was just a lovely atmosphere in the store. That mood is still evident today, and it looks set to be a really great weekend," he commented.
In the South Island, Mitre 10 MEGA Hornby owner Andrew Smith said it felt like the store was opening for the very first time and there were lots of smiling faces.
“The team were amazing; everyone had taken so much pride in getting the store prepared for our customers. There was this wonderful feeling of anticipation over the last few days while we were getting the store ready to open again.
“Customers seemed really happy to be out shopping, it was as if there was a sense of freedom and relief that people had been craving for a long time. Most customers seemed very comfortable to be around other people, yet they were very aware of maintaining physical distancing.”
A similar theme was in evidence at stores around the regions. From Westport to Thames to Kaitaia reports were of positive feedback all round, “a good vibe in-store and a good vibe around town”.
Standout categories were green goods (plants, seedlings etc) with a 470% increase compared to last year, gardening supplies up by 370%, paint up 340% and power tools, which were up 270%. Demand is expected to remain high over the coming weeks as Kiwis finish off projects they started during lockdown and embark on new home and garden improvements.