ON CUSP OF GREAT FU­TURE

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - BET­TINA WARBURTON bet­tina.warburton@news.com.au

TOWNSVILLE will be a “com­pletely dif­fer­ent” city in 12 months, with com­mu­nity and busi­ness con­fi­dence on the rise, says busi­ness stal­wart Gra­ham Jack­son.

The founder of Loloma Jew­ellers, OAM re­cip­i­ent and for­mer Townsville En­ter­prise chair­man said Townsville had ex­pe­ri­enced one of the worst down­turns he had ever seen.

“I have been through five cy­cles in Townsville and this is the worst we have ever had,” he said. “Small busi­ness op­er­a­tors who are com­ing to the end of their leases just don’t bother re­new­ing.”

But Mr Jack­son said the city’s mood was chang­ing.

“The change in am­bi­ence has to do with the de­vel­op­ments that are un­der way and the de­vel­op­ments that will hap­pen in the city,” he said.

“Adani is likely to go ahead, the port de­vel­op­ment is go­ing ahead, the sta­dium is un­der con­struc­tion, de­vel­op­ment along The Strand is go­ing ahead and the pipe­line is un­der con­struc­tion.

“All these projects are chang­ing the con­fi­dence in the city.”

Mr Jack­son said the trad­ing pe­riod lead­ing to Christ­mas was cru­cial for small and medium busi­nesses.

“It is cru­cial for their over­all yearly profit,” he said.

“Al­though I don’t think we will see a mas­sive ben­e­fit this Christ­mas trad­ing pe­riod, next year will be a dif­fer­ent story al­to­gether.”

Townsville Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Deb­bie Rains said the city’s re­tail sec­tor had ex­pe­ri­enced a “tough” year.

“It has been very dif­fi­cult in a lot of ar­eas with shops still strug­gling to en­cour­age peo­ple back in store,” Ms Rains said.

“On­line shop­ping still fac­tors heav­ily here and the fo­cus is mov­ing more to the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence with shop­ping cen­tres all com­pet­ing to of­fer en­ter­tain­ment, ac­tiv­i­ties and com­pe­ti­tion to at­tract the shop­per.”

Ms Rains said one of the most ef­fec­tive ways for the com­mu­nity to sup­port lo­cal re­tail­ers was to spend lo­cally.

“The cham­ber’s mantra is for peo­ple to spend their money lo­cally with lo­cal busi­nesses,” she said.

Stock­land Townsville cen­tre man­ager Mal­colm Miller said the cen­tre ex­pe­ri­enced strong cus­tomer traf­fic all year round but Christ­mas was al­ways the busiest time.

“Re­tailer feed­back is al­ready quite pos­i­tive in the lead up to Christ­mas and we an­tic­i­pate that foot traf­fic will in­crease from next month as cus­tomers start to get pre­pared buy­ing gifts and deco- ra­tions,” Mr Miller said.

He said Stock­land Townsville em­braced the spirit of Christ­mas.

“Each year we of­fer a num­ber of Christ­mas ser­vices for cus­tomers to en­joy from or­nate win­dow dis­plays and dec­o­ra­tions, to pho­tos with Santa, gift wrap­ping, cour­tesy ser­vices and even car­olling,” he said.

Na­tional Re­tail As­so­ci­a­tion deputy CEO Lind­say Car­roll also said the Christ­mas pe­riod was in­cred­i­bly vi­tal to re­tail.

“Not only does the fes­tive sea­son pro­vide a great op­por­tu­nity to in­ject a cash wind­fall into a re­tail busi­ness, it can also make up for slower pe­ri­ods of the year,” he said.

“The in­creased busi­ness ac­tiv­ity also pro­vides a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for young peo­ple, with many busi­nesses putting on ex­tra ca­sual jobs over Christ­mas in or­der to cope with con­sumer de­mand.

“This will help to get many young North Queens­lan­ders a foot in the door when it comes to paid em­ploy­ment and in­crease their work­place ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Loloma Jew­ellers owner Gra­ham Jack­son with Stock­lands store man­ager Deb­bie Stan­bor­ough.

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