Gympie hopes to escape rut

RETAIL is all about confidence, and many Gympie shoppers remain unconvinced they should part with their hard-earned cash on anything but the necessities it seems.

Mary St businesses surveyed yesterday did however say their trade was either steady or had shown a "slight" or "definite" improvement in the past few weeks and months.

The Australian Retailers Association this week released March figures showing a modest boost in retail sales across the country.

It's a sign that maybe the worst is behind us, though clothing retailers and department stores are apparently still doing it tough.

Clothing retailers in the Gympie CBD generally agreed sales were on the increase, and most store owners said Tuesday night's budget would do little, if anything, to boost small business.

Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Ellingsen said consumer spending came down to confidence.

"Consumers need confidence to spend their money," he said.

"At the moment they are not, which is demonstrated in the fact we are saving more now than we have at any time in the last 30 plus years.

"The Gympie business community is no different.

"Our consumers need to spend money in order for our economy to work.

"Further interest rate cuts and strong financial management from our governments (at all three levels) will help provide the confidence consumers need."

The confidence of retailers across the country is expected to be buoyed by the 0.9% month-on-month and 3.7% year-on-year growth reported in ABS retail trade figures.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said the boost might be an early sign of recovery for the sector, but relief for both business and consumers was still needed.

"Despite some welcome news of an increase in consumer spend, the category breakdown shows confidence hasn't extended to discretionary spending, with year-on-year growth across the clothing and footwear (0.4%) as well as department store (1.4%) categories still weak and below the rate of inflation.

"Growth in the food retailing categories (0.9% and 2%) show food is buoying up the sector, and to a lesser extent household goods are also contributing to the boost with some below CPI yearly growth of 0.6% for March.



Here's what some Mary St business people were saying yesterday.

"It's hard to say because we are doing okay. There has been no real change since Christmas."

- Jan Warne, co-owner Unearthed.

"The (Federal Government's) 'plasma bonus' won't find its way through our door. A lot of people will be spending that (bonus) money on other things, like getting back on their feet after the floods."

- Jenny Waldock, owner Foxy Lady Boutiques

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