The most severe flooding Auckland has ever experienced is a sign more economic struggles are to come for a retail sector which still hasn’t recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck – who has been the face of Tāmaki Makaurau's central city business association since 2015 – told BusinessDesk yesterday that Auckland had never experienced weather like this before.

“Friday night was pretty rough,” she said.

Beck spent Saturday walking around the CBD to assess the damage and talk to businesses that managed to open and was “relieved” to find that many places did manage to open for business.

“That doesn't take away from the fact there are some dealing with some very severe impact,” she added. 

“It's the last thing Auckland needed after everything with covid and we had a big, long weekend planned.”

She said the supercity had been seeing a “slow but steady” increase of visitors since borders opened and Heart of the City had expected the Auckland Anniversary weekend to be “pretty buoyant”.

“There were to be lots of concerts and events, along with all of the tourists in town – it was a big disappointment for many.”

Listed retailers

On the listed retailer front, Briscoe's managing director Rod Duke told BusinessDesk on Sunday that there was no damage to report.

Only two of the 12 Auckland Briscoe's stores had water inside them, he said.

Across other retailers, jeweller Michael Hill said only one of its 16 Auckland stores was affected while clothing retailer KMD Brands said its stores escaped damage.

The Warehouse was unable to be reached for comment.

‘Every hour counts’

On the supermarket retail front, although photos of Pak’nSave Wairau have been hitting headlines everywhere, it’s the only Pak’nSave in Auckland that has to be shut due to flooding.

Just two of Foodstuffs’ New Worlds stores – New World Fresh Collective in Mt Albert and New World Newmarket – have been closed due to the weather.

Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin said on Sunday it had been a “very intense 36 hours” for the cooperative and its partners as they worked their way through the effects of the flood.

“We’ve now fully assessed the impact on our locally owned and operated Pak’nSave, New World, and Four Square stores and are pleased to say, people are safe,” he said. 

“All but three Foodstuffs stores are open and operating today and every suburb impacted by the floods has a shopping option nearby.”

Although Foodstuffs was bracing itself for the wet weather to continue, Quin said the co-op wasn’t expecting a repeat of the record rainfall experienced on Friday. 

“At one point, we had 14 stores impacted in a severe to moderate way, so to now have only three stores not able to open and with clear plans in place to get them open, it’s a huge testament to the mahi of our teams.”

Quin said “every hour counted” when it came to picking up and transporting groceries and, while the co-op had experienced a “few delays” with transport, it still had good supplies.

“We’re catching up and in pretty good shape, under the circumstances,” he said.

Countdown managing director Spencer Sonn said the only Countdown store in Auckland to be “majorly impacted” by the flooding was Countdown Mairangi Bay. 

“It’s likely to stay that way for a few days as we clean up and make sure the store is safe for customers and our team,” he said.

Premium supermarket retailer Farro had all six of its Auckland stores open while online deliveries were “operational”, chief operating officer Hamish Fleming said yesterday.

“Our Farro team did an amazing job overnight to clean up, which enabled all the stores to open,” he said.

He added that due to Friday night’s flooding, there could be delays getting deliveries to some Auckland addresses.

Downpour to continue

More heavy rain is expected to hit Auckland today and in the next few days.

In an update yesterday afternoon, state-owned weather bureau Metservice said there was “high uncertainty” surrounding the intensity of the rain as it moved over Auckland on Sunday and this morning.

Beck said that the likelihood of the rain becoming severe again was concerning due to how it would further affect businesses that had already been hit by flooding.

“That’s going to be the worst thing and it’s the bit that I’m concerned about,” she said.

“If you're a small business that's got people still working from home and now you're hit by flooding, that could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

But, she added, it was still too early to know if that definitely would be the case.

Beck said business sales in the CBD were still “lumpy” – and dependent on where places were based in the area – but the overall sales trend was between 80% to 85% of where the sector was pre-pandemic.

“That’s still quite a gap because they're large numbers, but it's been on the move up since the border opened,” she said.