COVID-19: Dubbo, Wellington Chamber presidents urge consumes to shop local

Support local: Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright says the current pandemic may change the shopping habits of consumers for good.
Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Support local: Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright says the current pandemic may change the shopping habits of consumers for good. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The directors of the Dubbo and Wellington Business Chambers have urged their communities to support local retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many businesses have been forced to temporarily close their doors as a result of COVID-19, resulting in financial losses and unemployment.

Matt Wright, from the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the recovery of the local economy is going to be a slow one. With no clear end of the COVID-19 lockdowns in sight, placing a dollar figure on losses will be almost impossible, he said.

"Unfortunately some businesses may not make it out the other side of this crisis," Mr Wright said. "Whilst the focus is often on the dollar loss, we often overlook the stress and damage to mental health, both of business owners, their staff and families."

The Dubbo finance specialist believes the shopping behaviours of customers have been forced to change as a result of the current situation, with many shopping online for the first time.

"I believe we could see the shopping habits of many consumers changed for good. I think businesses owners need to acknowledge this, and adapt their businesses to those new behaviours," Mr Wright said.

The Dubbo Chamber of Commerce President believes shoppers, if given the choice, would prefer to spend their money through the doors of local businesses.

"This obviously supports the long term viability of many of these businesses, and of course supports employment of local people," Mr Wright said.

Wellington Business Chamber President Jessica Gough issued a plea for residents to help the local economy survive during the global health and economic crisis.

Wellington Business Chamber president and Jespresso owner Jess Gough with her daughter Audrey and mascot Lily. Photo: Daniel Shirkie

Wellington Business Chamber president and Jespresso owner Jess Gough with her daughter Audrey and mascot Lily. Photo: Daniel Shirkie

Ms Gough, who operates several businesses in Wellington said retailers in the town are doing it tough and the town is at risk of losing even more local shops.

"The way we save Wellington's retailers is to avoid shopping out of town and make an extra effort to buy from local stores," she said.

The Wellington Business Chamber president said they have been pushing the 'buy local' initiative for a number of years.

"However, with the forced closure of a number of businesses for isolation reasons the message has never been more important," she said.

For those business owners who have had to close, Mr Wright had a simple message and that was that you're not alone.

"Each day gets us closer to the end," he said.

"Talk to other business owners and find ways that they might be coping.

"If your business is closed, and you have staff, stay engaged with them. Just check in on them, and keep them updated with your future plans.

Chamber president said businesses should start considering alternative and creative ways to promote themselves when their doors do open, in what will no doubt be a challenging market.

"Whilst cashflow is at an all time low for many businesses, keeping front of mind for both existing and new customers is still extremely important," Mr Wright said.

This story Chamber presidents urge shoppers to support local businesses first appeared on Daily Liberal.