UoA hosts a wide range of food, drink, and retail options, but this could be under threat due to low student attendance. Uni Sushi, Jewel of India, Hollywood bakery and other retailers on the University of Auckland city campus say they are seeing roughly half the number of customers than previous years.
UoA retailers are reporting their concerns with low numbers of students on campus. Several retailers told Craccum that the number of customers visiting their stores has decreased significantly compared to pre COVID-19 years.
This comes as more students opt for online course options or choose to watch recorded lectures online. Offshore students also make up a significant portion of the student body missing from campus, as New Zealand’s borders are closed to most international students.
One business affected, Uni Sushi, told Craccum that they had been forced to reduce their staff from 10 to five members this year. Staff member Amy stated that the business would consider moving off campus if they had the opportunity. This is after seeing at least 40% less customers than in previous years. “Prices of ingredients have increased, wages have increased, but customers have decreased.”
Maharshi from the UoA’s Jewel of India, a popular Indian eatery, shared similar concerns with Craccum. Jewel of India also reduced their staff by almost half after seeing 40-50% fewer customers since last year. The Indian takeaway shop is a student favourite for their snack boxes and hot chips, with a few students lined up when Craccum visited. Despite this, they are concerned about the lack of students on campus. “We have contacted the university about the situation but have not received a response.”
Hello Food’s UoA store that offers Chinese cuisine says they have also experienced similar challenges to their neighbours. Location manager Bonnie says they have also seen a drop in customers compared to previous years of up to 60%.
Barilla Dumpling and ChiChop also say that low student attendance on campus is very noticeable. Kenneth from ChiChop, a Taiwanese restaurant new to campus this year, told Craccum that they were fairly busy during the first week of the semester. “We have definitely seen less students as the semester has gone on.”
Yuku, from Hollywood Bakery’s UoA store, says they have felt the absent student population too. “We are busy around exam time, but otherwise, there is barely anyone here. It is really terrible for all the retailers.”
But it is not just food retailers that have been affected. Ubiq, the University bookshop, has also noticed a difference in student attendance. Staff members Jay and Ima reported that “it is very quiet at Ubiq. There are actually more people coming in compared to Semester Two of last year, but it’s not at all at pre-COVID levels.”
While many retailers are concerned about these student trends, most say they plan to remain on campus for the foreseeable future.