Retailers not counting on Santa

IT has been a tough year for Emerald retailers battling not only recovery from the floods but also a steep increase in online shopping and other financial pressures.

The typically bumper sales period leading into the festive season is often a chance for businesses to increase their sales figures, but with many residents opting to either shop online or travel to larger retail centres, local traders have seen only an average pull of customers.

"We're having the same sort of sales to last year," Atmosphere owner Sandy Copping said.

"Nothing above average, but we're on target to run the same as last year."

A new home decor gift section has seen a slight change in customer profile with men making more purchases, but on the whole, Ms Copping said her shop did a steady trade year-round.

"Christmas is never a really big hullabaloo," she said.

"Our gift section has offered new things to customers, though."

Ms Copping said a lot of people chose to travel to Rockhampton to do their Christmas shopping, which meant local businesses often missed out on higher sales.

Vincent Chartered Accountants this week warned retailers needed to think beyond the festive sales season and plan beyond December to recapture a market that has increasingly shifted toward online shopping.

Managing director and retail expert David Rose said retailers, both big and small, needed to tackle changes in the marketplace and respond to the growing trend.

"The retail operating environment is experiencing massive changes so it is understandable business owners are a bit dumbfounded by the challenges they are facing," Mr Rose said.

"Consumers are also battling cost of living increases and the desire to reduce debt so it's no surprise many are doing more of their shopping online. Some smaller retailers are really screaming out for help at the moment and the problems are being felt around the country."

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