Wellington Scoop

$75,000 campaign to attract more people to spend money in the CBD

The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency is spending $75,000 on a campaign to boost business in the CBD, where it says foot traffic and revenue has diminished. It announced the campaign today.

News from WREDA (aka WellingtonNZ)
A new Wellington Love Local campaign will concentrate on boosting central city businesses to help them handle the impacts of Covid-19 as we move into Alert Level 1.

The campaign encourages people to buy from local businesses in the heart of the CBD facing diminished foot traffic and revenue as more people work from home. It’s a way to celebrate the city’s vibrant shopping and hospitality experiences – many of which are unique.

The number of people in Wellington central (Lambton Quay, The Terrace and Willis Street) is estimated to be about 30-35 per cent fewer during the week, and even lower on Fridays, compared to pre-Covid.

Commuters on rail declined by 18 per cent and bus patronage by 12 per cent, compared to July last year.

This has impacted on spending in Wellington City which fell by 9.8 per cent for the four weeks ending September 13, compared to the same period in 2019. This is in contrast to the rest of the Wellington region

WellingtonNZ Marketing General Manager Anna Calver says it’s critical to maintain the vibrancy of the CBD, the economic engine room for the Wellington region.

“Central Wellington is full of interesting shops, eateries, bars, and all manner of service businesses, crammed into the most walkable city in the world. It’s what helps give the Capital a global reputation as a great place to visit and live.

“The heartbeat of downtown Wellington still beats strongly but it faces the challenge of lower foot traffic as more people work from home. The new Love Local campaign aims to boost CBD businesses by encouraging consumers, when they can afford it, to come into town and buy local.”

The Love Local campaign has a $75,000 budget. It includes a video to be shown on YouTube and other social media channels, digital adshel promotions and traditional outdoor posters.

First Retail Managing Director Chris Wilkinson says Love Local has captured Wellingtonians’ interest and loyalty – successfully refocusing spending and goodwill towards stores and hospitality venues.

“With the relaxation in alert levels, we know people are anxious to get back shopping and dining in earnest, so this new campaign is well-timed to support businesses when they can benefit most.”

Anna Calver says WellingtonNZ is also focusing on events as a way to attract people to Wellington and into the city.

“Digital Nights Wellington – Van Gogh Alive is providing an immersive art experience under the waterfront’ stars, the All Blacks face Australia at Sky Stadium on 11 October, and the World of WearableArt – Up Close immersive exhibition will be at Te Papa from 12 December until 14 February.

“These are the sorts of events that tempt people to Wellington to enjoy a short break or long weekend. So long as we are in Alert Level 1, which doesn’t have crowd restrictions, we expect a significant number of visitors and a corresponding boost to the local economy.”


  1. Traveller, 22. September 2020, 15:22

    The people at the economic development agency really should stop using the tired old claim that Wellington is the most walkable city in the world. Have any of them sampled the pleasures of walking in New York or Paris or London or Barcelona or Rome or Tokyo? And in terms of uniqueness – there are more unique shops in and around Cuba Street than you’ll find on Lambton Quay.

  2. Benny, 22. September 2020, 15:52

    Oh, that’s interesting. The City Council states in its implementation plan to make Wellington carbon neutral (voted in August 2020) that it should “… Incentivise city-wide remote working” (page 18 of the implementation plan, available here.)
    Speak of schizophrenia.

  3. greenwelly, 22. September 2020, 16:47

    Has anyone asked the council what proportion of its staff are physically back in the office from Monday -Friday ??.. I suspect it will not be a very high number ??…

  4. TrevorH, 23. September 2020, 7:18

    Without parking nearby the CBD will continue to decline. It’s a long term trend accelerated by COVID and poor planning. A few posters and a video will do nothing to reverse it.

  5. Guy M, 23. September 2020, 8:16

    Traveller – i think the point is that in Wellington you can walk the entire central city in one day, with the main route (Golden Mile) being able to be traversed without crossing roads (basically traffic-free from Parliament to Manners St), and then the easy access to the waterfront, which is also traffic free from Oriental Bay to the Train Station.

    New York or Paris or London or Barcelona or Rome or Tokyo – just not possible to do this. They each have their own considerable charms, but they can’t be done in a day (more like several years of walking) and they can’t be done in a waterfront, traffic-free experience. Sure, you can wander down the edge of the Thames and zig-zag across bridges, but you’re still missing most of London. New York is all about the interaction with traffic, every block; Rome is about getting lost and finding ancient monuments around each corner, but there is no way you could walk and know Rome in less than week or two or three. Barcelona – you could spend a week in Barcelonetta alone, let alone the rest of the city. And Tokyo – you could spend a lifetime walking city streets and still not pass the same place twice.

    Only in Wellington could you arrive at the main train station, walk for two or three hours, and have a confident knowledge that you’ve safely perambulated the city’s best parts. Wellington’s topography and history and buildings are unique: be thankful for that.

  6. Kay, 23. September 2020, 10:58

    I think Trevor’s wrong about reasons for decline. During Level 3 or above restrictions, cars could still park but public transport spaces were reduced and some businesses switched to Working From Home. Contractors who’ve lost work may not travel into town either. Advertising events may help prompt occasional visits but won’t restore regular foot traffic. The switch to Level 1 and warmer weather will both help.

  7. Kara, 23. September 2020, 11:23

    I wonder why WREDA is wasting thousands of dollars to entice Wellingtonians into the downtown shopping area. We go there if we want to. An advertising campaign isn’t going to change our shopping or walking habits. Far better to use that money re-employing a couple of casual workers that WREDA dumped.

  8. Mike Riversdale, 23. September 2020, 13:21

    The old approach just isn’t gonna fly. People have seen the light and permanently working in an office block in town has quickly become an outdated idea. Smarter thinking required than just demanding people come back, ain’t gonna happen no matter what some at WCC and PSC/SSC say.

    And this is not meant to to denigrate the pain that many will go through during this change. Shops will shut, consolidate, and go online. Bars and restaurants will limit hours. Cafes will no longer have the footfall, especially at lunchtime. Suburbs and the regions will grow. [via twitter]

  9. Island Bay Healthy Streets, 23. September 2020, 13:35

    A big part of the CBD’s lack of appeal for me is that it is so geared towards cars. It seems bizarre that so many CBD businesses seem to want to double-down on that, rather than making the CBD a more people-friendly destination. CBD businesses should be the biggest cheer-leaders for better public transport & more micro-mobility. Cars don’t buy stuff, people do, & cars are an inefficient way to get lots of people to your business [via twitter]

  10. Traveller, 23. September 2020, 13:37

    Wellington’s unique businesses are the ones that will survive, led by the unique Unity Books which offers such a wonderful choice of so many subjects, not available anywhere else in town. (Let’s also remember to praise, and visit, Arty Bees and Pegasus.) It’s good to see Tilly fronting the WREDA video, and giving it some authenticity.

  11. Tom Mitchell, 23. September 2020, 13:42

    The only way to ‘save’ the CBD is to have more people living within it. Remote and working from home is here to stay and nothing is going to change that now. [via twitter]

  12. Don M, 23. September 2020, 17:50

    Wellington is becoming much less “walkable”, as pedestrians increasingly have to share the footpaths with speeding scooters and cyclists. Even many Wellington residents, particularly those who are older, with small children or with disabilities, are now avoiding higher density scooter and cylist areas. Meanwhile, cities like Paris are banning scooters and taking back their footpaths for pedestrians. So why are we surprised that parts of Wellington are dying?

  13. Guy M, 23. September 2020, 23:35

    Don M, to claim that parts of Wellington are dying because of residents using scooters is just plain hogwash. Yes of course we need the Council to provide some safe new routes for safe scooter and cycle use, to avoid frightening young and old pedestrians, but the use of scooters indicates a thriving and entrepreneurial city centre, not one that is dying. The law as it stands is an ass: it permits a person on a scooter to use the road, to use a buslane, to use a footpath, but it explicitly forbids electric scooter use in a cycle lane. The sooner NZTA change that dumb rule, and that WCC install some cycle lanes that can be used by e-scooters as well, the better.

  14. Don M, 24. September 2020, 9:08

    Gy M, the point is that retail, which is the life blood of the city, is in decline. There are various reasons for this, but reduced foot traffic is one of them. We should be making our footpaths a more user-friendly and welcoming environment for pedestrians, including in the CBD, but unfortunately are going the other way, with inevitable results. Inconsiderately ridden and discarded scooters do not enhance the walking experience in the CBD and elsewhere (and not just for “old pedestrians”). Parroting the Scooter companies’ mantra about scooter use contributing to “a thriving and entrepreneurial city centre” does not change the reality on the ground.

  15. Toni, 24. September 2020, 11:40

    Guy you may well be able to walk the inner-city but it is becoming less attractive every year. Lovely glimpses of the harbour have become blocked by waterside buildings, rows of polluting diesel buses belch their fumes as they rumble noisily past pedestrians, and green spaces to sit and relax are almost non-existent (once you move past Midland Park). The council doesn’t seem to get it. They have provided some small areas with a tree and seating surrounded by grey concrete tiles and call that ‘green space’. Other areas such as Willis Street have a row of wooden seats that back right onto the curb facing shop windows. These are all uninspiring and certainly not relaxing.

    Victoria Street and Willis Street from Dixon Street south with a high population density and wall to wall apartments have no reasonable areas of green for relief. And the only “park” on Victoria Street (next to Vivian Street) is a huge slab of grey concrete tiles with a row of trees stuck in the middle which has become a ‘wide footpath’. In contrast, many of the great overseas cities such as Paris or London historically recognised the need for multiple small parks and green areas for mental and physical well-being, and these are still able to be enjoyed today.

  16. Guy M, 24. September 2020, 15:25

    Don M and Toni – we’re on the same side. I’m an inner-city worker and inner city resident – been living in the very heart of the Te Are for the last 20 years and believe me, I am ACUTELY aware of the city and its ins and outs. I completely agree that we need more, better, well-designed urban green spaces, and I’ve been fighting for that for the last 20 years as well. I also completely agree that the WCC are letting through some real shockers of buildings – but I also know how hard it is to reject them.

    The rows of seats you describe are purposely put there to stop texting and earphone-wearing pedestrians walking stupidly into the street. WCC carefully did not put in fences or barricades or chains to stop people – the seats are a good compromise to marshall people to stay on the footpath and not wander aimlessly into the path of a bus.

    But we also need to recognise that e-scooters have changed the city’s urban fabric for good. They are an incredibly useful addition to our range of modes of transport, and I use them all the time (although the Uber/Lime Jump scooters have buggy software that needs fixing and the Flamingos need more guts) – mainly I zip along the waterfront to the train station and back, as the roads and footpaths are not practical.

    There is an absence of people on the pavements at the moment as many people are still staying at home, working. No one can blame them for staying there until a vaccine is invented and widely available. Only at that point will our city burst fully back to life again. Scooters are the least of our problems!

  17. Gabi, 1. October 2020, 7:08

    Why are people not streaming into the city and into the shops and restaurants? Maybe because the rents are so high and they need to save up for a deposit to be able to buy a house, so they want to be wise and not overspend on things they don’t need in order to – on top of this – not have credit card debt. Let’s be real: everything is much too expensive in NZ, the groceries, the overpriced stuff from overseas in the home stores (those who have travelled know what I am talking about) and the crappy cold mouldy houses as well. Until this changes there will be no blooming economy It is not only about getting people to spend unwisely!

  18. Sean, 1. October 2020, 9:49

    I walk a lot, but in February this year I reached a point where I could not stand walking to/from the Wellington CBD to shop, eat or be entertained any longer. Footpaths in Wellington are now given over to speeding e-scooters and cyclists illegally riding on them. Walking is dangerous and unpleasant in Wellington and I don’t think I am the only one avoiding the CBD in favour of the suburbs now, a behavior cemented in place by the Covid Lockdowns. Things are set to get worse with the expected return of rental bikes and the almost certain legalisation of cycling on what were once footpaths. It would take a lot to get me back. Perhaps a central library?