Plaza boss:switch cup holiday back
Horsham Plaza manager Allison Roberts has called on Horsham Rural City Council to abandon its Horsham Cup Friday public holiday.
Mrs Roberts said feedback from plaza businesses on both the Friday and statewide Melbourne Cup holiday on Tuesday revealed high levels of confusion among Horsham shoppers and many disappointing trade results.
She said a trader survey showed that while some shops that chose to open on the Friday – some only for a few hours – reported relatively good trade, results from others were less impressive.
“To be perfectly honest the results from the survey reflected a bit of a disaster that has mostly likely cost tensof-thousands of dollars,” she said.
“It was really disappointing. Trading on Melbourne Cup Day for many was extremely quiet.
“I urge the council to reconsider the switch and to quickly change the holiday back to the Melbourne Cup Tuesday for 2018.”
Mrs Roberts said she felt for Horsham and District Racing Club in needing to run its cup meetings on a Friday and stressed the plaza fully supported significant community events.
“We’re all part of a broad team in Horsham and we’re pleased there were efforts to attract people into town as part of the change, but this isn’t the right answer and needs closer examination,” she said.
“It just wasn’t good for business. Businesses are in a downhill run to Christmas and it is important for us to trade.
“From our perspective the Melbourne Cup is the day that stops the nation, but this year Horsham Cup was the day that stopped Horsham from trading.
“In saying that, we don’t in any way hold it against the Horsham Cup meeting.
“But the reality is that half of our customers come from outside the Horsham municipality and their holiday was on the Tuesday, not the Friday.
“In the end there were quite a few staff members from businesses who used the circumstance to leave the region as part of a long weekend. I was one of them.”
Mrs Roberts said the stores that traded on the Friday had to pay public-holiday rates in wages and some, while busy for a few hours, ran at losses for the day.
She said one plaza business that chose to close on the Friday missed 58 phone calls and sales queries and had already made a decision to stay open next year and close on Melbourne Cup Day.
Other Horsham businesses responding to a survey about the public holiday switch have also provided ‘overwhelming’ negative feedback to the change.
Business Horsham chairman Brian O’connor said indications from the survey were that the change had led to significant ‘confusion and disruption’.
He said Business Horsham would present all feedback to Horsham Rural City Council.
Mr O’connor stressed that Business Horsham operated independently from the council. This year was the first of a three-year holiday schedule.
For more on Business Horsham’s position, see next week’s edition.