Mandurah may love its online shopping, but where does that leave local business?
According to the Peel Chamber of Commerce general manager Andrew McKerrell the rise in online shopping has had a massive effect on small retailers, with the number of empty shop fronts increasing.
In the coming weeks Fairfax WA will be running the Save Our Empty Shops series, in a bid to highlight the importance of shopping local.
Untenanted commercial properties are becoming commonplace in other WA towns such as Bunbury, Collie and Esperance, with the Mandurah Mail focusing on what life is like for local retailers in upcoming weeks.
With Mandurah recently ranked the top hot spot for online shopping in the state, highlighting the issue is more important than ever.
“Decrease in foot traffic to traditional retailing areas, a current over supply of choice and the main disruption is the ever growing trend of online shopping,” Mr McKerrell said.
“Outside of the retail and hospitality space, the service and trade industry is struggling the growing number of outer region providers competing for works in the Peel, and financially undercutting some of businesses.
“We have seen an increase in commercial real estate stock in the last 12 months, and based on recent surveying results, we are anticipating the number of empty shops to increase before the end of 2018.”
Nationally speaking, 80 per cent of small businesses close within two years of opening.
While Mr McKerrell said he had seen an abundance of small businesses open and surpass the two year mark, more support was needed.
“Small retailers, who unlike the competition, bear large overhead costs in order to provide the physical presence that sets them apart from the online sphere,” he said.
“These businesses also employ out regions young people, with many also engaging with the community through charity and not-for-profit sponsorships or donations.
“If we want this to continue, we need to support them as that is the only way they can continue to support the community we live in.”
Mr McKerrell said in order to compete with the disruption of online shopping, local retailers need to create a unique point of difference when it came to customer experience.
“Unfortunately with the rise on price-based shopping, the emphasis should now be focused on service delivery and outstanding quality – give your customers a reason the return by leaving them well and truly wowed by their experience,” he said.
City of Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams said the City was committed to supporting local businesses in numerous ways.
“Council is committed to the Mandurah city centre which is illustrated by the establishment of the City Centre Team, our partnership with the Smart Street Working Group and the opportunities afforded to business via Winter Wonderland, Crab Fest and the Australasian Police and Emergency Services games, which will attract an estimated 5000 people to Mandurah,” he said.
“Via our CityCentre Team the city plans to work in partnership with local businesses with the aim of attracting people to the city centre.
“The city is supporting businesses via security patrols in the city centre and our investment in the upgrade of the Eastern Foreshore.”