ON CUSP OF GREAT FUTURE
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.