During the recent holidays I was fortunate enough to take the family on a vacation through the southern part of our state.
We spent time in Albany, Denmark and Margaret River. It is always great to rediscover what wonderful natural assets we have in our region.
It was also a good opportunity to see firsthand the natural and created attractions of these regions and talk to the locals on a wide range of issue to see how economically healthy the regions are.
I discovered that their issues are not dissimilar to our own. Whilst visitor numbers are reasonably good, what the operators have noticed is that the spend of the visitors is down which is a trend that has been reported in the CCI WA Business Confidence Survey released in December.
We are seeing considerable investment in the mining and construction sectors in our state which is supporting the recovery in our state’s economy. However, the consumer confidence results are very pessimistic, four out of 10 businesses in the retail sector surveyed expect weaker economic conditions in the next 12 months.
There have also been several national businesses in the retail sector reporting poor returns over the last quarter and are going into voluntary administration. Consumer spending amounts for 57% of GDP in Australia so any weakness in this area impacts negatively on the economy. Consumer spending is a big deal.
We seem to be caught in a conundrum, many of the financial indicators report that the region is experiencing a high level of economic investment, we have a pipeline of projects for our region that is the envy of other regional areas, housing and rental stocks are reducing, the climate is ripe for increases in house prices and rental returns, local unemployment levels are running a full percentage below the state average, yet our residential population seems very reluctant to increase their local spending or to make significant family purchases.
Our City like many of the regions I visited during my break complain about empty shops and the job opportunities that disappear with them. I get regular questions from media outlets on what the Chamber is doing to reverse the trend and assist these businesses.
We have been implementing programs along with the state government and local Councils to revitalise these areas.
However, and this is the Elephant in the room, if you want to see a revitalisation of our CBD and have locals investing in local businesses and you would like to meet the person who can make this happen then take a good look at the reflection in the mirror at home tonight. There looking back at you is the person who can make a difference.
If it is your choice to live in this wonderful region and benefit from the lifestyle of the region it is incumbent on you to support your local businesses, sporting clubs, and community groups.
The investment you make in our local economy by directing your spend through local businesses gets returned to our community many times over.
I know that you know this so why not make it your new years resolution to support your community and yourself by shopping locally. Be the difference.