Taupō retailers will be feeling the pinch after one week of an expected four-week lockdown and some may not survive.
Many of the town centre retailers have been closed since early last week after the Prime Minister announced alert level 4 restrictions would come into force on Thursday, March 26.
Enterprise Great Lake Taupō has set up a portal for local businesses with information, resources and support. Towncentre Taupō has been in regular communication with town centre businesses, offering a listening ear for anyone who needs it.
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Towncentre Taupō chairman Ben Westerman says it's early days and he expects most retailers have been too busy so far trying to work through what needs to be done to get in touch.
Mr Westerman is also a director of Westerman Property Solutions which manages commercial tenancies and says the majority of local landlords are offering a 50 per cent rent reduction in recognition of the fact that most business tenants cannot generate income during the lockdown.
Mr Westerman said if the lockdown only lasted four weeks, businesses hoped to be able to trade their way out, although some would take longer than others.
"I think that the hospitality businesses should bounce back because people are getting cabin fever and want to get out for a feed and a drink but it depends on the restrictions - for example, if they are limited to numbers [of people] they won't be able to go back to full speed again. We've got travel agencies and things on our books and they are going to take a long time, if at all, to get up to speed again."
Taupō business owner Chris Johnston says everybody in town is suffering at present and simply hoping to hang on until the lockdown is over.
Mr Johnston has owned Replete Cafe & Store for nearly 28 years and also owns half shares in Eat Catering and Plateau Bar & Eatery.
He said closing the doors on all three has been a rough time but he has been trying to keep things in perspective. Almost all of Eat Catering's business evaporated about 10 days before the lockdown when social distancing rules were introduced, and Replete and Plateau both had to close their doors on Monday, March 23.
"I wasn't good last Sunday when it first impacted but then I went for a 50km bike ride and put it into context and then I was just fine," Mr Johnston said.
He added all local people were in the same boat and while he has been in business a long time and has been able to ride out downturns such as the 2008 global financial crisis, he especially feels for new business owners who were still trying to get established when the lockdown occurred.
"There's others who are in worse positions than us."
Mr Johnston's businesses employ 35 full-time employees and several part timers. He applied for the government subsidies for staff, which came through this week.
"That enables me to keep everyone on and I'm topping them up to 80 percent [of their wages] but I don't know how long that's sustainable."
Mr Johnston and his business partners swung into action as soon as they heard the news of the impending lockdown.
"Our banks have been brilliant, they've pushed all our loans into interest only so that's reduced the cost and we have a business protection scheme that we haven't had to activate yet. And two of our landlords have given us a rent holiday in April.
Mr Johnston says while closed businesses in the town centre are the outward signs of the lockdown, it will have a flow-on effect to almost every business in town. For example, while businesses are shut, they are not paying for a rubbish collection service from another local firm.
"Everyone in town is impacted by this. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, everyone is hurting.
"If you can limp your way through to the end and you can open your doors and have your staff come back in, you can start again."
He said that on the upside, his adult children had all come home to join the family in the lockdown and the pace of life had slowed.
"It's the first time I've had this amount of time off. And I've had phone calls from people who I haven't heard from for two years or so because they know I'm in business and they want to know I'm okay."
Former mayor Rick Cooper's trust Cooper Family Investments owns a significant number of commercial properties around Taupō and Mr Cooper said he had several requests for rent holidays.
He said he was writing to all tenants to offer them a 50 per cent rent reduction for the month. He also urged all business owners to take advantage of the government support and wage subsidies available.
However, Mr Cooper said he feared some local businesses would not survive.
"I think we'll find we're going to have some empty shops in Taupō. Some people may say it's not worth carrying on."
All the board members of Towncentre Taupō are available if business owners need somebody to talk to and Enterprise Great Lake Taupō information portal for local businesses is available at taupo.biz.
How you can help
¦ Buying vouchers now online from local businesses to use once the lockdown is over
¦ Supporting businesses once they reopen, even if it is just for limited services such as takeaways
¦ Buying from local online stores.