Murwillumbah retailers told to gear for a changing market
SALES figures for several retailers in Murwillumbah were down on previous seasons, with one saying he had experienced a "disastrous" Christmas.
The owner of camping and outdoor shop Outdoorism, Tony Ryder, said sales had gone "all right" though they were "well down" on previous years.
"It's too easy for people to jump in their cars and head up to the Gold Coast," he said.
Cameron Rawards, the owner of Rawards Mens-wear, said the season had been "fine" - considering the retail climate that streetfront shops had to deal with - competition from the internet and from shopping malls.
Mr Rawards said he hoped the government would bring in GST on internet goods to level the playing field.
"Other countries have so I don't see why we haven't. It makes it hard for retailers."
Bob Shepherd, of Electronics Murwillumbah, said a fairly busy two weeks leading up to Christmas had been a "life-saver" for the shop, which had suffered a "very, very bad season".
"It's been disastrous," Mr Shepherd said. "People are scared to spend and so they go to the malls to try to save money. We were the 2013/14 stockist of the year so we're doing something right", but he didn't expect life to get any easier for retailers in the town.
But it was not all doom and gloom for the town, said Toni Zuschke, president of the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber.
In the last few days before Christmas Murwillumbah had been "jumping", Ms Zuschke said.
The face of the town was changing, with younger people attracted by its facilities and affordable housing. For retailers it was a matter of supply and demand.
"There's a whole new demographic coming here. Retailers may need to reinvent themselves to deal with the transition," she said.