Retail NZ says losses for Wellington retailers are likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars rather than the millions and that the quakes have come at a critical time of year for retailers heading into Christmas.

Spokesman Greg Harford said it had been a challenging week for retailers with Monday a "write off" for most and yesterday a "nightmare" with the bad weather also keeping people away from the city and encouraging people to leave early.

He said large retailers like David Jones and Farmers had been shut yesterday as the buildings were assessed for earthquake damage.

While those businesses would have lost trade other smaller boutiques had benefited from the spill over affect.


Harford said the city was getting back on its feet today but the big challenge remained getting engineers to certify the safety of buildings.

"The city has been pretty resilient."

Harford said the quakes had come at a bad time of year for retailers heading into the critical Christmas period which meant closures would have a disproportionate impact.

"It's a bad time of year for this to happen."

He said the big challenge would be the longer term impact with many office workers not able to return to their buildings.

Yesterday Statistics New Zealand chief executive Liz MacPherson said the best guesses by structural engineers was that it could be somewhere between several months and up to a year before it could return to its offices in Harbour Quay.

The building houses 500 staff.

Shed 39, another building which houses the Greater Wellington City Council also suffered damage which owner CentrePort said would require more extensive inspections to assess.

Retailers around Molesworth St have also been affected by a cordoned off area around a building at 61 Molesworth St which is causing concern.

Harford said there weren't many retailers around that area but those in the area would likely remain closed until it was deemed safe.