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Continued digitisation of economy post-pandemic has some retailers worried

As the country entered lockdown during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies were forced to think up ways its staff could work from home and retailers had to find ways to pivot their operations online.

Eftpos (file picture). Source: istock.com

ANZ is the latest big organisation to trim office space.

The banking giant is decreasing its floor space in Auckland and Wellington by 30 per cent as more of its staff continue to work from home.

"We've had a flexible work policy in place for several years, and as a result occupancy in our corporate offices has only been around 70 per cent of our office space," an ANZ spokesperson said.

They said they decided to reduce their office space “so it’s more in-line with the needs of staff”.

The spokesperson said 95 per cent of its staff worked from home during the lockdown, and many wanted to continue doing so.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said the move to digital has been on the cards for some time.

“When you get big disruptive events like covid you tend to find trends that were already in place get accelerated,” he said.

“I think the obvious example of that is digitalisation. We’ve had five or 10 years of digitisation all at once.”

Mr Stephens said for local firms who haven’t adapted to the digital revolution, Covid-19 may be its “last straw”.

“On the other hand, some local New Zealand firms that were perhaps on the cusp of breaking out with some new digital model might find that Covid-19 has given them the breakout moment they needed.”

But the move to online doesn’t work for all.

Some retailers 1 NEWS had spoken to said they were worried about having to adapt to an online economy because of the high cost of re-focusing their business and how difficult it was to compete with larger companies overseas.

For footwear retailer Shoe Clinic, going online would take away from its key proposition.

“We need to analyse people’s feet and the way they run and the way they walk,” managing director Neville McAlister said.

He said it would be “nearly impossible” to do the same online.