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Businesses vie for online millions

CAN’T BEAT SERVICE: David Panther of Panther’s Mensland in Leongatha is urging people to shop locally this Christmas.

SOUTH Gippslanders spent $84.1 million online during the 2018-19 financial year and retailers are fighting for shoppers to instead open their wallets in local towns.

Local shoppers spent an average of $7 million a month online, with the peak reaching $7.5 million in November 2018 in the lead-up to Christmas.

The trend towards online shopping is growing locally, with a rise in online expenditure of about two per cent over the year.

While the figures include the booking of accommodation and entertainment tickets, they also include shopping websites, meaning much of locals’ millions is heading to other parts of Australia and overseas.

South Gippsland Shire Council authorised the research and is joining with retailers to entice shoppers back to main street strips to buoy the local economy, as South Gippslanders start their Christmas shopping.

For every dollar spent with a small business, 42 cents is invested back into the community through salaries, business suppliers, charities and community groups, according to a reference paper used by council.

While $84.1 million is a massive amount to be leaving the region, council’s Ken Fraser said residents’ local spend was potentially “a fair bit more”, but he expects online expenditure to grow over time.

“We are keen to retain as much spend as we can locally and that is why the capital works in (Leongatha’s) Bair Street are very much part of that,” he said.

Council hopes the streetscape works in Bair Street – one of the town’s main streets – will help make the strip easier for shoppers to access.

There is no doubt online shopping has affected local retail sales, according to David Panther of Panther’s Mensland in Leongatha and Wonthaggi.

But like a growing number of retailers, he is taking advantage of the opportunities online shopping offers by selling select products online to customers around Australia.

“There is an opportunity to sell online but nothing beats quality service and honest advice,” he said.

“I find that customers that shop with us appreciate the service and a smile. They feel the fabrics, they see the quality. By looking online, you never know what you are going to get.

“It’s our job to offer the best value.”

Mr Panther said rather than urging people not to shop online at all, he encouraged them to shop locally first – and reap the benefits.  

“We are employing local people and we are giving donations to local groups,” he said.

“What we do is far superior than what you are going to get online. That’s how you get repeat customers; by giving good value to people.”

Yarram clothing shop Davis Manor is impacted by online shopping, with young customers tending to shop online more so. 

“However the older generation still like to come in and browse around, try on clothes and walking out with their purchase,” the store’s Karen Mathewson said.

Gippsland MP Darren Chester said shopping locally was the best way South Gippslanders could use their money to create jobs and new opportunities in country towns.

“Buying online sees jobs taken out of our community and delivered to warehouses in Melbourne, Sydney and overseas,” he said.

The research company Spend Map obtained the information for council by accessing bank data, without accessing personal information.

Bass Coast and Wellington shire councils did not have online expenditure for their municipalities.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30548

Posted by on Dec 13 2019. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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