The Christchurch Central City Business Assocation says retailers may be shocked by how much has been demolished when they are able to get back into the inner city.
Half of the cordons around the inner city red zone could be removed by Christmas, and the rest taken down by April, under a timetable proposed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
Assocation manager Paul Lonsdale says retailers are itching to get back into the city, but there has been a huge amount of demolition.
He says the success of the reopening of the city will depend on how many buildings are left.
Mr Lonsdale says it is important to set up temporary shops so there is something for people to visit while the rest of the city is rebuilt.
CERA released its draft recovery strategy on Saturday. It outlines plans for the city's long-term recovery and also sets a timeline for when residents in the orange zones of the city will find out whether their land is safe enough to live on.
Individual cordons will remain around buildings still being worked on, such as the Grand Chancellor and Crown Plaza.
Public consultation on the draft strategy runs until the end of next month.