The city of Mount Gambier was bustling during the Victorian school holidays and is now experiencing a lull due to locals travelling north towards the warmer weather, according to a local business leader.
Chamber of Commerce president Hayley Neumann said quite a few motels seemed to have no vacancy signs, however the retail and hospitality industry was not as busy as it was during summer.
“I think winter is always a quiet time for local businesses, there is still the shortage of workers with COVID and just workers in general that’s a big issue at the moment,” Ms Neumann said.
“They’re still facing their challenges, hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Ms Neumann said it was difficult to determine without data if business had increased since this time last year, but she believed it had.
“It’s definitely an improvement and the tourism data we’re seeing is saying (the state is) back to pre-COVID rates, but it’s still a lot more to come I think,” she said.
“We’re very proud in Mount Gambier and business owners are not going to say it’s all doom and gloom.
“We really want to be positive and say ‘hey, there’s a great future in Mount Gambier for businesses, so let’s be positive’ and hopefully they all have that positivity as well.”
Ms Neumann said she had heard from local businesses that trade was currently quiet and people were opting to stay home rather than spend money.
“Economic times are tough at the moment and people are seeing where their money is going rather than shopping,” she said.
“It depends on the industry as well, every industry is different.
“From the outside looking in you might think trades or the agricultural industry is having a great year, however from the business’s perspective they are facing ongoing price increases for their materials, overheads and operating costs.
“I think every industry is having their challenges but we try to stay positive.
“There’s so many different economic pools at the moment and things that challenge us – wage increase as well, staff shortages, stock increases, there’s lots going on for businesses so I hope they hang on.”
Ms Neumann reminded people to shop local and encouraged everyone to rug up, embrace the cold weather, get out there and support local businesses.
“Because if we do not then they might not be around in the future,” she said.