Kmart and the New Zealand Transport Agency are preparing for traffic chaos with thousands expected to descend on the new Rotorua store come opening day.

Kmart Rotorua announced yesterday it would open in three weeks and plans are in place to make sure it doesn't cause too much disruption on the roads.

Transport Agency transport system manager Rob Campbell said it would ensure an appropriate traffic management plan had been completed by Kmart before the store opened in the Trade Central complex on Amohau St.

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He said a traffic camera would be installed at the intersection outside the complex.

"This will allow the transport operations centre to monitor traffic flows and adjust the signals if necessary."

A Facebook event post for the big day - March 16 - yesterday had more than 2000 people interested in attending.

When Kmart opened its last New Zealand store, in Petone, more than 1000 people were waiting outside at 8am.

Kmart country manager Jason Pickard said he expected thousands at the Rotorua store on opening day and Kmart did want to apologise for what will be a little bit of pain during the first week.

"There will be a lot of people in Rotorua who have been waiting for Kmart to come and they will want to come along and check it out.

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"But we aren't going anywhere so people can spread their visits."

Pickard said lit up signs would be placed around Rotorua asking traffic that was not heading to Kmart to take other routes.

"If you're not going to Kmart, then you can just go around.

"We will have signs up, people ready to assist at the traffic lights and parking wardens to direct people in the carpark."

Pukeroa Oruawhata general manager Peter Faulkner said the trust, which owns Trade Central, had worked with Kmart, the Transport Agency and Rotorua Lakes Council to make the opening weekend as smooth as possible.

"There will be a bit of pressure with the crowds that are expected.

"What I've seen from Kmart though is they are very polished in the way they are approaching it all."

The Trade Central complex was a $19.5 million development for Pukeroa Oruawhata and Faulkner said the trust was "really really excited" to see Kmart opening and the third stage of the complex complete.

Kmart is preparing for traffic madness ahead of its opening day on March 16. Photo/Stephen Parker
Kmart is preparing for traffic madness ahead of its opening day on March 16. Photo/Stephen Parker

At the site, construction works are well under way and trucks full of goods to stock the shelves will begin arriving on Monday. It will then be all hands on deck to get things ready for opening day.

More than 2400 people applied to work at Rotorua Kmart and it was the difficult job of store manager Forrest Worthen and his team to sort through the applications.

More than 100 new team members have been hired locally with two Kmart employees transferring from other stores.

All team members have been undertaking training at surrounding Kmart stores.

They will be joined by a specialist team of shelf stockers as they get more than 50,000 items out of boxes and ready to be sold.

Worthen, who has come from the Bethlehem store in Tauranga, said the completion of this site would be a huge achievement for the whole Kmart team and he was eager to open the doors to the community.

The new store's 4400sq m store's layout would focus on three main areas: Kids, Home and Clothing, a new store layout being rolled out nationally, Kmart said.

The store will have central self-serve checkouts, wider aisles for easy wheelchair and pram access, as well as bolder graphics for navigation.

The store will open at 8am on opening day with free gift bags for the first 250 customers who make a purchase, free cupcakes for the first 300 customers and free balloons for kids.

Kmart Rotorua is the first store to have been opened by the retailer in New Zealand for 2018 with more store announcements to follow later this year.

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Rotorua Chamber of Commerce president John McRae said the fact Rotorua was getting another significant business was a "very good thing".

"Hopefully this will bring money in from outside Rotorua and also we know there are already people who were travelling out of district either to Tauranga or Hamilton to visit Kmart and so now we can bring those dollars back into the city.

"As well as that the flow-on effect of employment is a stronger economic stability."

McRae said Kmart would certainly bring competition into the market and to some degree that would impact smaller local stores.

"Some stores will find it tougher, but savvy businesses will be able to find a way of differentiating themselves and just weather the changes.

"Overall this will have a positive impact on the town. When competition comes into town like this is seems to increase the market size more than just pinching the market share."