Significant investment and an array of first-to-market international retail openings throughout Auckland city centre is beginning to pay off for retailers.
Consumers spent $409 million in the June quarter, up 2.2 per cent compared to $400m in the same quarter a year earlier.
At $107m, cafes and restaurants accounted for the largest portion of retail spend in the three months to June; followed by fashion, which accounted for $82m spend in the quarter. Fashion experienced the largest spending increase of all retail sectors in Auckland city centre - up 11.6 per cent on the same quarter last year.
Auckland's shopping strip Queen St continued to attract the highest proportion of international shoppers, with global brands clustered around this area attracting tourists to shop, reflected in the increase in spending by international cardholders.
About $134m was spent at retailers on Queen St in the June quarter, up 4.7 per cent on the same quarter a year earlier.
Approximately 15 million people came through the city centre in the quarter, an increase of 2 per cent. About 15.5 million people visited the bottom section of Queen St.
Foot traffic recorded on Saturdays was up 5.5 per cent on the same period a year earlier, and shoppers were also found to be spending more on average.
Dining has become a bigger part of Auckland city centre's economy. Spending in cafes and restaurants accounted for 25 cents of every dollar spent in the city in the second-half of 2018, compared to 21 cents in the dollar recorded five years earlier.
Spending in the centre has increased by 17.5 per cent in the past five years - up from $1.4 billion in 2014 to $1.7b in 2018.
A handful of international retailer have opened up stores in Auckland's city centre since the beginning of the year, including Sephora, Daniel Wellington, Superdry, H&M and Allbirds, which opened its first store in New Zealand yesterday.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said she believed the increase in spending at fashion retailers was due to the arrival of new international retailers in the area, and development in the area making the offering inviting.
"What this is showing us is confidence in the way the city is developing," Beck said. "What we're establishing in the city centre is an interesting offering which covers international brands, New Zealand brands, boutiques, it's quite a diverse mix ... it's more than just the retail offering, it's the cafe scene around it, the development of public spaces."
Beck said Queen St back in its day was a place to get dressed up for to browse shop windows. It then went through "a not so good stage", but had been "re-emerging" in recent years. "Some people point to the arrival of the international brands that have lifted it into another space."
Ongoing development in the city centre, including with Commercial Bay in downtown and the middle section of Queen St looking towards Karangahape Rd "had a revival of investment", Beck said, along with the iconic 246 Queen St building, set to become the "centrepiece of Auckland's fashion industry", would make the area more appealing for shoppers when complete, she said.
"Based on the last 12 months of performance and growth we're seeing in the city centre we can feel confident going forward. We are well aware there are challenges in the economy, challenges internationally. This sector does have lots of competition and the growth of online and we have to be realistic about that but what this data is telling us is that we do have an offering that is appealing."
Emily Miller-Sharma, general manager of clothing retailer Ruby, said the eight-store retailer's High St location had a positive sales period in the June quarter, bolstered by a increase in click-and-collect sales.
"We're seeing quite a big increase in click-and-collect orders, especially around sales time, and this works really well in High St," Miller-Sharma said.
Miller-Sharma said the High St store received between 700 and 1000 people through its doors each week, with events in the city bringing more shoppers into the store.
She said the store did particularly well on days when events or concerts were on held in the city. "What works is when the city feels exciting. The city feel exciting when there is a big event on, for example, at Spark Arena, because there are more people in the area.
"That has the biggest positive outside influence on bringing more customers into store, more so than the opening of a big retail chain."