Central Dunedin retail businesses say Kmart’s opening is not about to end the CBD’s reign as the city’s premier shopping destination.

The comments come after the store’s developer, Martin Dippie, told the Otago Daily Times the new Kmart store, expected to open about mid-year, would be a turning point for South Dunedin and allow it to “compete seriously with the CBD”.

Mr Dippie doubled down on his comments yesterday, saying he believed South Dunedin had already overtaken the CBD.

With three supermarkets, two discount department stores and a range of other utilities, the South Dunedin retail precinct should now be considered “the largest shopping precinct” in Dunedin, he said.

But Golden Centre Mall centre manager Nina Rivett said the CBD had much to offer shoppers.

She was also aware of “a major international signing” coming to George St that would make it even more of a drawcard.

The return of Kmart to another suburb was of no concern.

“There is no doubt that Kmart’s return will be great for Dunedin.

“But we see it as complementary rather than competition, given the vast number of retailers that exist here within the centre city.”

The mall had already noted a surge in shoppers as the George St upgrades neared completion, she said.

Void Clothing co-owner Debbie Lundy dismissed Mr Dippie’s comments as a marketing tactic used to drum up hype for the new store.

South Dunedin would not become the “main metropolis of shopping” without significant investment in making it a nice place to shop.

“We’ve just spent all that money in the main street of town here.”

George St jeweller and city councillor Brent Weatherall said the business implications Kmart posed to the CBD were hard to quantify.

He said Dunedin’s CBD was unique and other cities in New Zealand were far more fragmented, having high competition from satellite malls in the surrounding area.

“I just sincerely hope the new layout is acceptable to the majority and they can come and shop at ease once the roadworks have moved on.”

Mr Dippie yesterday said his comments referred to South Dunedin’s convenience and car parking, which he believed made it easier to shop there than in the CBD.

The South Dunedin retail area included the bulk of retail in Andersons Bay Rd, and could compete very well with the CBD in terms of convenience.

“I still believe the CBD is a vitally important part of the city but am worried it’s getting more difficult and more expensive to access [that] part of the city.”

Mr Dippie, who also owns Mitre 10 Mega, near to the Kmart site, said Mitre 10 had a “huge” number of customers tell them it was easier and more convenient to shop with them than trying to find a park in the CBD.

The CBD served as an important area for specialist shopping, offices and inner city residential dwellings, he said.

People on social media yesterday shared Mr Dippie’s focus on parking around the new Kmart.

Many were concerned that there would not be enough carparks on site.

The consent for the store said peak demand on week days had been calculated at 67 vehicles needing a park at any one time, increasing to 116 on weekend days.

The consent allows for 87 carparks on site — and recognises there are up to 126 when taking into account carparks at food stores between Kmart and Andersons Bay Rd.

Earlier, Mr Dippie said he expected customers to also park at Mitre 10 Mega and shop both there and at Kmart.

Overall, transport effects “on site and within the wider network” would be less than minor, the consent said. — Additional reporting Hamish MacLean

[email protected] , PIJF cadet reporter