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Business owners in central Christchurch are anxious about their shops being sealed away from customers behind cordons a week after the earthquake.
Even downtown streets that could open remained empty of customers yesterday as the clean up continued after last week's magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
Francis Hooper of fashion label World said it was among the lucky ones. The shop escaped unscathed apart from some fallen masonry and burst water pipes in the basement.
The store was structurally safe but Hooper was not sure when it would be full of people again.
"Even though there was moderate damage everything is fixable. We're fashion not food so if we need more stock we'll just make some more."
Hooper said an engineer told their landlord the building was safe - but with every aftershock came the possibility of more damage.
"I have a commitment to staff, I have other business commitments ... But what can you do?"
The uncertainty was bad for business and there was no indication when life would be back to normal.
He wondered if people would react to the disaster in a similar way to how the people of New York responded after the terrorist attacks.
"They might be like 'life is for the living and we weren't killed on Saturday'. It's like the 9/11 thing - people changed after what happened."
The alternative was shoppers could keep their wallets closed, placing pressure on businesses that have struggled through the recession.
Although it is an established business, World only opened a year ago in Christchurch because Hooper wanted to wait for a "beautiful building" to become available.
David Ruck part-owns a fish and chip shop in central Christchurch that usually opens at night.
But with many of Christchurch's nightspots closed he hopes to entice the influx of tradesmen into the city for building repairs with offers of cheap food to hopefully minimise any loss "There's a positive to every negative. There's a lot of opportunity out there as well."
Ruck said if small and medium businesses could survive a pause in cash flow for about four weeks they should survive.
He had already contacted Winz about getting the employer's subsidy and was pleased with the Prime Minister's promises that Inland Revenue would "back off".
"The IRD can be really scary for small businesses."
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker yesterday acknowledged that business owners and workers would be frustrated by the cordons in the central city, some of which would be in place for weeks as demolitions and clearance of debris take place.
"But they are probably very frustrated that an earthquake of 7.1 arrived ... a week ago. I'm frustrated about that. But I'm not about to say 'well, let's tear the cordons down so everyone can have a good time and make a buck'.
"What we are actually doing here is being focused on human life. And I think no rational person, business or otherwise, would actually say to me as the mayor of this city 'Bob, tear down this cordon and let some people come in, let's not worry about the risk'. I can't do that. Don't ask me to put people's lives at risk.
"I'm anxious for our businesses to get back on their feet as quickly as they can. It's of huge concern to me. But our city will survive, it will persist, and it's going to grow back better than ever before with a massive injection of money.
"There is this in-between time, where it's difficult for everybody.
"We need patience. We need understanding."