CBD retailers remain optimistic

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
From 2016, Big W store manager Jasmine Robert-Jones gets an armful of the hottest toys.
Camera IconFrom 2016, Big W store manager Jasmine Robert-Jones gets an armful of the hottest toys. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury retailers are remaining optimistic about Christmas trade with last minute shoppers encouraged to think local.

Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Mark Seaward said trade had not been “spectacular” but there was a “feeling of optimism around”.

“I don’t think people’s disposable income has increased this year in any way, shape or form so people are being careful with their purchase, they’re not going crazy,” Mr Seaward said.

“But that’s what you’d expect in the current environment.

“It hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s certainly looking up.”

There has been a visible increase in traffic and visitors to the CBD and Mr Seaward credited the efforts of Bunbury City Council and retailers.

“The city is looking pretty good at the moment, it’s lovely and has been cleaned up by the council and a couple new shops have opened up, it’s great,” he said.

Life & Soul Boutique owners Shelley Burrows and Sally Hutchinson agreed saying there was a “better vibe” in the CBD.

“Our customer numbers have been good this Christmas trade which is reflected in an increase of 5 per cent in sales from this time last year,” Mrs Burrows said.

“We think that good quality customer service combined with higher stock level has contributed along with the better vibe within our street.”

Sportsmarine owner Paul Collett said trade had been “patchy” but he expected “a bit” of a pick-up in the last minute rush.

“I think there’ll probably be a bit ... the last 12 months – I’ve been here over 40 years – it’s the hardest it’s been in the last 25 years definitely,” Mr Collett said.

“It’s pretty patchy at the moment and it comes in waves.”

He said he believed there were several challenges retailers faced including online competition and a lack of confidence in the economy.

“I don’t think it’s just Bunbury, it’s Australia-wide,” he said.

“I think people are really cautious on what they spend and what they spend it on.”

Mr Seaward said he encouraged shoppers to think local “every time” as people started to plan their last minute shopping.

“A lot are taking advantage of the unrestricted trading hours that they have in Bunbury, opening a bit earlier and staying open a bit later at night,” he said.

“I think that flexibility that people have is being very well accepted.

“I haven’t heard anything negative about the trading hours in Bunbury this Christmas from anyone.

“We’re always saying, choose local first – we understand that people will have to buy stuff from the internet because we don’t always have the exact same things they want, but always give people who run the physical business in Bunbury the first opportunity if they can.”

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