Retailers tough it out
Thursday, 3rd March, 2011
Downturn has led to shop closures
By Gayle Hogan
As a downturn in sales forces a number of stores to close their doors, local retailers are remaining positive.
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday said national accounts for the December quarter were "impressive" but local business owners say they are feeling the pinch.
Sampson's shoe store owner Peter Nash said wage rises, a mild summer, losing business to Mildura stores and online shopping were taking their toll on local stores.
His comments come after the recent closures of Toyworld, Lilly Lane and Vision Video. JonSan Video is also closing down.
"The loss of stores is spread right across Broken Hill and is a sign that retail is tough everywhere," Mr Nash said.
"I would expect most local stores in the fashion industry would have had a poor summer sell through as the weather pre-Christmas was very mild.
"At Sampson's we have been aggressively marking down our summer ranges since Christmas, which is great for consumers but does not pay the bills."
And as the city prepares for another shopping centre to be thrown into the mix, Mr Nash said he doubted that large retailers will survive in the local economy.
"From my discussions trying to find a tenant for the recently closed Toyworld site, our community is just too small for the bigger retailers to set up here.
"They all seem to want 30,000-plus catchment or are brainwashed into thinking you must be in a shopping centre - from my experience that's a tough place to make a profit, which is what it's all about."
Despite the slow sales for many businesses, Mr Nash said he expected things to turn around.
"On a positive note St Pat's races are really important for fashion retailers so we have some good weeks on the horizon.
"The mid term outlook for the city looks encouraging with CBH and Perilya ramping up again, so for many stores it's a matter of hanging on for the good times."
Faced with slower sales and increasing expenses, business owner Rohan McQueen decided to join forces with another retailer to keep costs down.
After operating Ro-Rows for five years, Mr McQueen recently moved his business into the same building as Cullen's Gifts and Jewellery and renamed his florist/gift business Elegant Blooms.
Mr McQueen said his Christmas sales were down compared to the previous year, but that wedding bookings remained strong - another reason to join forces with a gift and jewellery store.
"Everyone said it was very quiet."
Another business changing its strategy is Far West Auto which recently added Isuzu vehicles to the range it sells.
Meanwhile, rumours that Silver City Motors was closing down and merging with another car dealership were false, according to management.
The Holden dealership on the corner of Galena and Rakow streets said it was surprised to hear the rumours.
A spokesman for the dealership said this week there were no plans to close the business, nor lay off any staff.
It said the business was going from strength to strength.