The opening of 45 new stores with a focus on entertainment, food and leisure at Sylvia Park today is hoped to bring an end to some quiet weekdays at the mega mall in Mt Wellington.
Among the retailers opening their doors for the first time from 10am are a Hoyts' 10-cinema complex - including the first beanbag cinema in New Zealand - a food area with restaurants and takeaway bars, outdoor retailers such as Norsewear and Swazi, Kathmandu, a Borders book store and electronics shops.
Stage three - the "entertainment and leisure precinct" - is dubbed the "men's creche" because of its electronics, food and outdoor-wear shops. It will cover 20,000sq m and includes 450 new car parks.
Although the first stage's opening last June brought Auckland's southern motorway to a standstill, Sylvia Park has been nicknamed Spooky Park because of the dearth of customers, especially during the week.
The Warehouse Extra, McDonalds and Life Pharmacy have all said sales were lower than expected, and they hoped the opening of stage three would attract more foot traffic.
Supermarket competitors Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises also said it was slower than expected after the initial excitement wore off.
They also expect revenue to pick up after today brings the crucial mix of food and entertainment to the centre.
Angus McNaughton, chief executive of Kiwi Income Property Trust which manages the complex, was upbeat. "Before now we were missing some quite large chunks of the retail mix. There was no children's fashion, no dining places, no entertainment, no books, and no electronics, so there were some big gaps ...
"We have had a fantastic trading given there was that big chunk of the mix missing."
He said 26 of the stores opening today were either new to New Zealand or did not yet have stores in shopping centres.
He said most shopping centres had relatively quiet weekdays. About 60 to 65 per cent of business at Sylvia Park happened over the week, and about 35 to 40 per cent in the weekend, when it was busier.
"We've been open for 30 seconds so give us a chance and let us finish opening and then judge us."
Mr McNaughton said no major fanfare was planned to mark the opening, although many of the retailers were having their own parties.
Dick Smith Electronics PowerHouse had lined up entertainment from Tony Veitch and Stacey Daniels, spot prizes and special discount prices.
Hoyts Sylvia Park is kicking off with the New Zealand comedy Black Sheep tonight, at a theatre complex which promises more leg room, beanbags for two, and what Guinness World Records says is the biggest cinema screen in the world.
The final stage of the complex, which will include a Sylvia Park railway station, is due to open in mid-year - about a year after the first stage.