Three central Auckland barber shops have closed - and the owner is blaming Mayor Phil Goff.
The Barber Shop Company has closed its barber shops in Karangahape Rd, Federal St and Wolfe St.
It has put up signs outside them directing people to their other shops that are still open, and directing complaints to a phone number for Goff's personal assistant.
Co-founder and chief executive Adam Johanson said Goff and Auckland Council, which owns Auckland Transport (AT), were "tone-deaf" in going ahead with roadworks and construction projects which are worsening the hit that businesses in the central business district (CBD) are already taking from Covid-19.
"We can't control Covid," he said.
"We can control the environment and how many roads we dig up at once. I believe AT has dug them all up at once.
"We have made the decision to close those stores temporarily until such time as AT completes or halts some of their work and people return to the CBD."
All staff have been redeployed to the company's 15 other barber shops across Auckland, including two "city-fringe" stores which are staying open in the Viaduct Basin and in Anzac Ave which are close to multiple residential apartments.
"Our suburban stores and city-fringe stores are doing really well, probably better than they ever have, so we know it's a localised issue related directly to the CBD," Johanson said.
He said this was partly because many office workers are still working from home rather than coming into the CBD, while the loss of tourists and overseas students has also hit downtown businesses.
But he said multiple roadworks and the City Rail Link project in Albert St were also obstructing pedestrians and cars and discouraging people from coming into town.
"Albert St has been dug up for some time. What it's done is create new hazards. People are not going around there," he said. That has hit his Wolfe St shop, off lower Albert St, and his Federal St shop behind the Auckland District Court.
His K' Rd shop has been hit by building a new cycleway - one of the AT projects causing roadworks in 63 streets this year which were being called a "perfect storm" even before Covid.
Another barber on the corner of K' Rd and Queen St, Abbas Motemasek of the Cutting Crew, said the corner had been blocked by the cycleway construction work for more than a year, and his business was down 20 to 30 per cent.
"We had four staff, we are now two and a half," he said. "We are trying to push to pay the rent to keep the landlord happy, that's all we can do."
But Susannah Maloney of Maloney's Barber Shop in Victoria St said she had been "working really hard since the lockdowns to encourage new clients and to claw back our old clients who have been working from home".
"We are certainly down on what we would normally be for this time of year, but not dramatically, and not in any way that is threatening our business," she said.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said last week that both CBD pedestrian counts and retail turnover were still 25 per cent below this time last year.
A Herald count on November 8 found 40 shops now closed or for lease out of 225 street-front premises in Queen St between K' Rd and the waterfront - an 18 per cent vacancy rate.
Last Friday's one-day CBD closure hit the area again and Beck said the pedestrian count so far this week was 30 per cent down on last year.
She has asked Auckland Council and AT to plan works for whole areas rather than street by street, and to boost compensation for businesses hit by the City Rail Link work from just over $4 million approved last year to closer to A$60m (NZ$64m) for businesses affected by Sydney's light rail project.
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said he did not support stopping the roadworks or the City Rail Link, but he called on the council to do more to attract people back to the CBD.
"An important role the council should play is to ensure that the CBD remains a destination despite the projects that are upgrading it for the long-term. This role can be anything from promotional to ensuring that the CBD is at the top of its game in order that people choose to visit and support it," he said.
A spokesman for Goff said halting the City Rail Link would cost 3000 jobs, create "enormous difficulty and cost" to restart the project later, and "increase the risk premium for all major NZ projects into the future".
Auckland Transport media relations manager Mark Hannan said the roadworks and City Rail Link were part of a $6 billion investment in Auckland's central city infrastructure over the next five years.
"After years of under investment, Auckland is now in its biggest period of growth in the city's history – so yes, this means that there are more roadworks than ever," he said.
But he said the downtown construction project was now 75 per cent complete and eight out of 10 sections of the K' Rd "streetscape upgrade" have been completed.
1. Galway St enhancement - opening this month.
2. Lower Albert St bus interchange - opening Dec 2020.
3. Quay St strengthening - mid-2019 to Jan 2021.
· Queens Wharf to Marsden Wharf (Palisade wall) - complete
· Princes Wharf (jet grouting) - complete
· Ferry Basin (seawall anchoring) – due for completion late Nov 2020
· Ferry Building (seawall anchoring) – due for completion late Jan 2021
4. Te Wānanga (new waterfront public space): - opening May 2021.
5. Ferry Basin redevelopment – stage 1 mid-2019 to April 2021.
6. Quay St enhancement - mostly due by April 2021. The last section between Princes and Queen Wharf opens by mid-2021.
In addition, Lower Queen St, which forms part of the City Rail Link programme, will open in late December.
Source: Auckland Transport.