BEGA’S retail sector is celebrating the festive season after a positive Christmas trading period and even the arrival of Boxing Day sales to the town.
President of the Bega Chamber of Commerce Mal Barnes said trading has benefited from an influx of people to the district for Christmas – for holidays as well as highly popular events such as the Bega Showjumping Cup.
“Coming up to Christmas there were so many people around,” Mr Barnes said.
“There was definitely a positive feeling among retailers.
“From my own experience, since October my numbers have been up considerably from last year and I’ve heard that from others as well – to varying degrees.
“I also heard from some locals that they were able to get all their presents for Christmas right here in town, which is great.
“It shows confidence in local retailers.”
In addition to numerous locals making the best of Christmas shopping in Bega, Mr Barnes said he had heard of visitors from the Monaro coming down the mountain specifically for what was available in Bega.
“We are definitely establishing ourselves as the regional centre,” he said.
Another big positive for the area according to Mr Barnes was the arrival of Boxing Day sales.
The annual shopping extravaganza usually reserved to big city stores such as Myer and David Jones has filtered through to some small extent in regional areas with end of year sales and so on.
However, Mr Barnes said Big W in the Sapphire Marketplace this year even had people waiting outside for opening time – perhaps not to the extent of the mad rush typical of the city, but positive nonetheless.
“Having Boxing Day sales in Bega is a big positive,” Mr Barnes said.
“Big W had people waiting outside and Prouds and a few others were having clearance sales.
“The fact they’ve started it – and that people are coming out for it – hopefully gives the idea to other local retailers to try it in years to come.”
The marketplace itself is also becoming more settled in its place among the Bega retail landscape.
This was the third Christmas trading period since the Sapphire Marketplace opened.
According to Mr Barnes, despite fears – in several instances realised – the mall would impact main street retailers, “everyone has settled into regular shopping patterns”.
“We still have a strong main street and now we have the opportunity for new businesses to come to town,” he said.
“I’m hoping, with the way things are trading at the moment, new business are encouraged to set up in Carp St.”
Mr Barnes said the old Go-Lo store and what will soon become a sizeable vacancy across the road when Target Country moves into its new premises are prime opportunities for new retailers.
“We need some fresh ideas in and I think we have the support for anything original and fresh,” he said.
“Overall it was a very exciting Christmas and there are very exciting times to come.”