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Big box opening a can of worms

3 June, 2003
Big box opening a can of worms

Green MP Mike Ward said he has grave doubts about the Prime Minister's commitment to New Zealand small business by opening a new distribution centre for The Warehouse.

The Green Party spokesperson for small business and Buy Local campaigner said Helen Clark would have demonstrated a greater commitment to New Zealand-owned small business and the culture of small town New Zealand by not accepting the invitation to open the Rolleston site at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning.

"By choosing to open yet another mega-sized complex for The Warehouse, Helen Clark is effectively giving her stamp of approval to big box retailing," said Mike Ward.

"These big box complexes undermine the viability of New Zealand manufacturers and retailers who between them have centuries of commitment to their communities.

"It is hard to applaud the possible creation of 60 jobs at this centre when The Warehouse can be held responsible for the loss of many more jobs and closures of businesses in nearly every small town its entered."

Mr Ward said a Canadian study into the effects of big box retailing showed retail sales in Canada's downtown shopping areas dropped an average of 28 per cent between 1989 and 1996.

"The anecdotal evidence in New Zealand leaves no doubt the same thing is being experienced here, especially on our small town mainstreets," said Mr Ward.

"While I admire Ms Clark's commitment to New Zealand arts and culture, either she has been badly advised or doesn't understand the importance of retailing to local culture when she supports a business that does nothing but erode this."

Mike Ward backed calls from Envision New Zealand's Warren Snow, for the Government to consider a moratorium on big box-style retailing.

"These megastore retailers are completely changing the way New Zealanders shop and live by pushing unsustainable hyper-consumerism as if the lowest possible price is the only virtue," said Mr Snow.

"Communities need to have a stronger voice in determining the mix of retail within their communities and I think a moratorium would give them the chance to have a say in preserving local flavour and viability of their communities.

"Big box retail is literally spelling the death knell of traditional town centres and community values," said Mr Snow.


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