Hawke's Bay retailers are still succeeding against the dual challenges posed by big-box retail and online shopping, as consumer spending shoots up by more than $12.5 million.
Latest data from Paymark, which processed about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions, recorded $149.2m worth of transactions in the region during October - a lift of 8.4 per cent on the same month last year.
That was on the back of a 6.2 per cent lift in the number of processed transactions, which totalled 3.29 million.
However, a new report from commercial-industrial valuation and property strategy firm Turley and Co indicates these gains are not spread evenly between Napier and Hastings. "Prime retail rents in Napier are 40-50 per cent higher than Hastings and Napier's pedestrian numbers are superior," the report says.
"In the last 10 years the top three main-street Napier foot-traffic points declined 4 per cent, impressively in the face of big-box and online retail. Pedestrian numbers for Hastings' best three main-street locations declined 34 per cent over the same period.
"The best three sites for Napier 2008-18 were pedestrian traffic 109 per cent better than the equivalent three for Hastings. The 10 years average shows Napier was 63 per cent superior.
"The best Napier site was 143 per cent better than Hastings' best site. For the third time in about 20 years Napier's best pedestrian site is back in Emerson St (Strand Bags) relegating the Warehouse, Napier."
Hastings' best retail site had its lease renewed in 2016 at 17 per cent below its prior rent.
Napier CBD retail's resilience across changing times is also shown by its unchanged mix of outlets.
"In 2003 Turley & Co intensively surveyed Napier's CBD, and in 2015-18. The 2003-18 surveys confirm hospitality and cafes is unchanged at 14 per cent, and banking and finance at 5 per cent. Fashion accounted for 32 per cent of shops in 2003, and 15 years later is barely diminished.
"The most significant change for central Napier is the escalation of national and Australasian retail brands from one-third to just over a half."
Overall, shop numbers remained unchanged.
In Hastings, the mix of shop types showed a small move from fashion retailing to food and hospitality.
The outlook for Hastings CBD retail was "looking up" director Pat Turley said, with very good Marketview retail spending stats and Hastings District Council investments.
"Council has budgeted $4.5m for Hastings CBD reworks and streetscape enhancements. It is investing $30m in the Opera House precinct plus its laneway projects. Some game-changing private developments are in the wings.
"CBDs, like shopping centres, periodically require format and design updates to remain successful. Palmerston North City, which is marginally bigger than Hastings, will invest $31m over the next six to eight years in CBD reformatting and streetscapes plus $25m on reworking the sports arena on the edge of its CBD."
The redevelopment of the Hawke's Bay Opera House precinct was also expected to be good news for surrounding retailers, Turley said.