End of an era: iconic dept store Smith & Caughey to close

May 29, 2024

End of an era: iconic dept store Smith & Caughey to close

Smith and Caughey: the iconic department store in Auckland's Queen St. Photo: Brodie Hunter

Aucklanders outside of Smith and Caughey are mourning the death of the iconic department store.

Many expressed shock and disbelief at the closure of a shop that has been at the centre of city life for nearly 150 years.

“It’s shutting down? No!” said one woman waiting for a friend outside the store this afternoon.

“I used to meet my friend at this store all the time. It’s such a shame and a loss for Auckland.”

Another shopper who was reading the “Closed for Today” sign outside the store told a story many Aucklanders will relate to.

“My mother used to work here, and I enjoyed taking my kids and grandchildren to see the Christmas displays in the windows.”

These reactions were typical of those from passersby following the announcement that the famous department store was shutting down.

Smith and Caughey plans to close its two stores, the flagship Queen St building as well as its Newmarket store, beginning in 2025, citing a 40% loss in revenue for the past year.

This will result in a loss of more than 250 jobs and mark the end of an era for the iconic 144-year-old store.

This news is just the latest in a trend of department stores going under in New Zealand.

Last year Invercargill’s H&J Smith department store shut down for good as retailers found it hard to attract customers.

Inconvenience is one of the driving factors, especially in CBD areas where parking and getting into the city is increasingly difficult.

With shopping malls increasing in numbers and their greater accessibility, people are struggling to find a reason to make the trip into town when these malls are present.

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