Trading at Commercial Bay is off to a booming start, with almost a quarter of a million people visiting the downtown shopping centre in just four days.
The 18,000sq m retail and dining precinct in Auckland city centre opened for the first time on Thursday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially opening the site.
Saturday saw the highest number of shoppers through the centre - 64,000 - up from the 52,000 visitors on Friday and 46,000 on opening day. About 47,000 people were expected to visit Commercial Bay on Sunday.
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Scott Pritchard, chief executive of the property developer and owner Precinct Properties, said the response to the centre had been "unbelievable".
While he could not reveal how much had been spent at Commercial Bay over the past four days, he said it had been much higher than expected - and up on original forecasts of an earlier opening pre-Covid-19.
Spending on both hospitality and fashion retailing were up on initial forecasts, he said.
"We have been overwhelmed by the response, we're close to a quarter of a million visitors in four days - it is astonishing. We've seen across the board that all of our retailers are doing incredibly well, they are so happy with how trading has been," Pritchard told the Herald.
"We've seen trading all day - people are arriving in the morning, they're doing breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the times that they are doing lunch are 10am to 4pm and dinner is kind of from 4pm to 10pm, and the fashion retailers are all super pleased with how it is going."
Precinct Properties had expected between 40,000 and 50,000 people to visit Commercial Bay each day during the first weekend of opening, Pritchard said.
He said the trading the centre had so far experienced alleviated some of his concerns about not having the international tourist market as part of the customer base.
Now complete, Commercial Bay is worth $1 billion. Pritchard could not comment on how long it would take for the $700m invested in the development to be earned back.
"Based on the last four days, we are really very pleasantly surprised at how it is trading."
Michael Beagley, chief executive of Rodd & Gunn, said the menswear retailer's Commercial Bay store and dining outlet had been inundated with customers over the first weekend of trade.
"Words can't describe how exciting the reaction has been to our first full dining and retail experience. We have been inundated with customers across our retail, bar and restaurant to a level that we could never have predicted," Beagley said.
"It has been challenging to cope with the level of demand and we are incredibly confident that the initial customer reaction to our unique concept and the entire Commercial Bay development is only going to get stronger and stronger."
New Zealand's unique position of being Covid-free had made consumers feel like it is time to celebrate, Beagley said.
Oliver Simon of American-inspired hot dog shop Good Dog Bad Fog said it had received "absolutely crazy sales results", which had exceeded expectations by five times, and had sold well over 2000 hot dogs over the weekend.
Sophie Gilmour, co-owner of Middle Eastern street food vendor Fatima's said the Harbour Eats dining precinct had been "pumping with what feels like a festival-style atmosphere".
Matt Nicholls of the Public Bar and Reign & Pour said demand at his outlets had exceeded his expectations.
"After all the challenges we faced in the lead up to launch, including a world-wide pandemic, the result could not have been better, with demand far beyond our expectation."
About 120 retailers have opened stores in Commercial Bay, a mix of fashion, beauty and food operators, including internationally acclaimed restaurants and 650-seat dining hall Harbour Eats.
Retailers Ecoya, Tommy Hilfiger, Scotch & Soda, Calvin Klein and Aotea have each opened their first exclusive stores in New Zealand in the centre.
Located at the base of the new PwC Tower, which is set to open next month, Commercial Bay is made up of eight separate buildings joined by bridges and open-air laneways over three levels.
The Little Queen St laneway on the ground floor, inspired by Melbourne's thriving side streets, was designed as a nod to New Zealand designers, and houses Kiwi retailers Superette, Twenty-Seven Names, Ingrid Starnes, Storm and Elle + Riley, among others.
Pritchard said Commercial Bay had drawn New Zealanders into Auckland city, with the pedestrian count across the city up significantly over the weekend.
Earlier in the week, Heart of the City said foot traffic in the Auckland city centre was down about 40 per cent.