The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - DARYL PASS­MORE

THOU­SANDS of jobs have been lost in re­gional Queens­land as strug­gling re­tail­ers shut up shop.

Empty high street stores are a com­mon sight in towns and cities around the state as belt-tight­en­ing by con­sumers, high over­heads, com­pe­ti­tion from big na­tional chains and new tech­nol­ogy all take their toll.

New anal­y­sis of in­dus­try trends data shows that while em­ploy­ment lev­els in sec­tors such as hos­pi­tal­ity and health­care are ris­ing fast, the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing in re­tail is shrink­ing.

“Over the past four years, re­tail em­ploy­ment in Greater Bris­bane has grown by just 6500 – which is slow it­self – but the dra­matic im­pact can be seen in the rest of the state where the num­ber has fallen 15,600,’’ econ­o­mist Pete Faulkner of North Queens­land-based Conus Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices said.

“The story across the re- gions is not, of course, uni­form but it is the case that al­most ev­ery re­gion has seen a re­duc­tion in re­tail sec­tor jobs since 2013.’’

The rapid de­cline in what has tra­di­tion­ally been one of the ma­jor job-providers in smaller cen­tres is caus­ing con­cern, in­clud­ing the ef­fect on op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple as youth un­em­ploy­ment is over 20 per cent in some ar­eas.

“A third of our em­ploy­ees are youth,” Na­tional Re­tail As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Dominique Lamb said.

“A lot of work is be­ing done to get these kids into work (in other jobs) by de­vel­op­ing trans­fer­able skills.

“We do know the re­gions have been strug­gling.”

In ar­eas af­fected by the down­turn in min­ing con­struc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing – such as Townsville, Mackay and Glad­stone – peo­ple had left town and oth­ers had re- duced spend­ing, Ms Lamb said.

Dam­age and flood­ing caused by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters – mostly re­cently Cy­clone Deb­bie – had also im­pacted on re­gions in­clud­ing the Whit­sun­days and Rock­hamp­ton.

Glad­stone’s act­ing mayor Chris Trevor said the city had lots of f emp­tyt shops.hops

“Food out­lets, cloth­ing, gen­eral sup­plies. It’s ma­jor chains, too. We’re hav­ing a silent re­ces­sion up here.”

High power bills were pil­ing on the pres­sure. on top of a gen­eral eco­nomic malaise.

“Peo­ple just can’t go on and they close the doors.’’

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