Smith & Caughey’s loyal customers say looming closure ‘a sign of the times’

One of New Zealand’s oldest department stores, Smith & Caughey’s, has reopened to customers two days after announcing a proposal to close in 2025.

It was announced on Wednesday the 144-year-old store would start consulting with staff about the potential closure of its retail operations on Auckland’s Queen Street, Newmarket, and online.

A cyber attack following the news saw the store remain closed an extra day.

Smith & Caughey’s chairperson Tony Caughey said over the last five years there had been a 40 percent decline in revenue in the physical stores, due to increasing competition from malls, more luxury brand stores, and roadworks in the CBD.

The Queen Street store appeared quiet on Friday morning, with a few passerbys querying if it was open at all.

Dunedin’s Marelda O’Rourke-Gallaher was heading into the store and said she always visited when in Auckland.

“It’s one of the last stalwarts of luxury department stores in New Zealand, it’s tragic that it’s going, but it’s a sign of the times,” she said.

“Young ones just buy online now.”

Smith and Caughey's on Queen St, Auckland.

O’Rourke-Gallaher said when she heard the news about the closure, she knew she wanted to go and take a look.

“It’s going to be quite sad when it is closed – I like the variety of what they have here, there’s a lot of really good labels and a wide range of different clothing sizes.

“The staff are lovely too, and I feel for them. I can see why it’s closing but it is really sad.”

It was expected more than 200 workers will be impacted if the two stores do close.

For Keith, who did not want his last name used, going to Smith & Caughey’s for his morning coffee was a daily ritual.

“It’s very sad to see all the department stores closing up shop because they can’t compete in the modern environment.

“It’s difficult for them, but I was still surprised to hear of the closure, they always seemed to be doing quite well and had their online sales too and are a trusted name.”

Smith and Caughey's in Newmarket, Auckland.

Another shopper, who had been keenly waiting at the doors for the 10am opening, said Smith & Caughey’s had always been “her happy place”.

“It was the main reason I moved back into town and got a central apartment. So for me, hearing it’s closing is quite devastating.”

She said the city had changed a lot in recent years and she could understand why the store would close but hoped things in the city would start to improve soon.

“It’s a beautiful old building too, so I really hope it’s replaced with something else.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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