More needed for local economy
Wednesday, 5th September, 2018
By Emily Ferguson
People spending more money have helped the national economy to grow, according to economists, but local businessman Peter Nash says that there is still a lot to be done here.
The owner of Sampsons shoe store said from his perspective, traditional retail, especially clothing and footwear, was doing it tough and had been for the last few years.
Mr Nash said that several country shoe shop owners in Mt Gambier, Mt Barker, Pt Lincoln and Pt Augusta that he had attended conferences with 10 to 20 years ago had all closed their stores.
“Sampsons is not immune to the decline in physical customers despite record investment levels in stock,” he said.
“We are endeavouring to continue the Sampsons’ 100-year tradition of providing customer service rather than the self-selection warehouse option that has sprung up in the last decade, but staffing costs are a serious concern with declining sales.
“Online shopping is very popular and is further compounded in our industry with our suppliers now retailing also. At Sampsons we have diversified and now offer an expanded range of ladies accessories and clothing to endeavour to remain viable.”
Mr Nash said that there was no sign of an improvement in foot traffic in the CBD and this would fall further when the Commonwealth Bank moves to the Westside Plaza in November.
“Empty stores portray a very tired look for the CBD and does our tourist industry no favours.
“This was always going to be the case with the Broken Hill Village opening. We could not sustain two shopping precincts and now with three we see stores like Big W closing.”
But Mr Nash said some stores and food shops were benefiting from the wind farm and the pipeline projects, and the Broken Heel Festival on this weekend would also boost local businesses.
“The Broken Heel Festival will be a boom for accommodation houses and entertainment venues and a small spin off for other retailers.
“I’m all for the glass being half full and many infrastructure projects funded by the NSW Government are encouraging to see.
“We desperately need the Broken Hill City Council to allocate funding to sell the benefits of living in Broken Hill and they need to do it now, not in five years’ time, as it will be too late for many local retailers.
“We need a focus on tourism and on population growth and this message needs to be spruiked by all three levels of government urgently” he said.