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Christmas bonanza: Shoppers respond to end of petrol supply fears

Saturday 24 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, Local, National

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Christmas bonanza:  Shoppers respond to end of petrol supply fears
Finishing off a little bit of last minute Christmas shopping in Avarua yesterday afternoon were Antony Tau and Teare Tau Gifford. The two live in Auckland, New Zealand, and are visiting Rarotonga on holiday. 22122344

Businesses are welcoming ‘steady’ trading going into Christmas.

Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rebecca Tavioni said it had been a “positive” week for the island’s businesses, after the previous week’s problems caused by lack of petrol for much of Rarotonga.

The container ships Imua and Liloa both arrived in the past week, bringing fuel and products bound for local stores. The fuel ship Media also arrived this week.

“We’ve had two big container ships arrive within a very short space of time, one after another,” Tavioni said.

“The port has been good in extending their opening hours, because there’s a lot of stuff coming off those containers that needs to go immediately on to the shelves.”

Tavioni said the feeling had been more “buoyant” compared with Christmas last year, with the Covid restrictions out of the way.

“There are more people who can travel here, and there are more people who have actually been able to take holidays,” she said.

Cook Islands Trading Corporation (CITC) general manager Gaye Whitta said the feeling had been more positive this Christmas.

“I think business has been steady,” Whitta said.

“Everyone is a bit more relaxed and low key this year.”

Wigmore’s Superstore general manager Michelle Wigmore said it had been a “solid” leadup to Christmas.

“Everyone is leaving things until the last minute,” Wigmore said. “It’s been busy across the board.”

IDCK manager Rachael Best said it had been a “challenging” week for many businesses, due to the late arrival of freight.

“We were really worried it wouldn’t arrive before Christmas, but fortunately it did, so it’s been a race against time to get all the stock on the shelves,” Best said.

“People are spending money, just not as much as they might have in the past.”

Best said it had been a “difficult” couple of years for retail, as they were coming out of a Covid-19-dominated environment.

“It’s been pretty low key this year, I think a lot of customers are appreciative of how difficult it’s been for businesses over the past two years,” she said.

“There have been a lot of challenges, and people can relate to that.”

Fletcher Melvin, of Island Craft, said things had been steady and was pleased stock arrived in time.

“That was a relief,” Melvin said. “But overall, it’s been much better than the past two Christmases.”

Melvin agreed freight had been an issue in the lead up to Christmas.

South Seas manager Nick Dun said consumer confidence appeared to be on the rise compared to previous Christmas.

“There appears to be a lot more spending in this week lead up,” Dun said.

“There has been the bottleneck of shipping to deal with, but that usually happens in the week before Christmas.”

Dun said the business had been able to secure most of the required stock, but there were still supply chain issues with certain products.

“It’s something that all businesses in the Cook Islands are having to deal with to some degree,” he said.