Lyn Briffa from Wistaria Wunderland says Ballina Shire Councils trial footpath display policy has increased business significantly over the silly season, and she and other retailers are now crossing their fingers that Council will make it permanent.
At its December meeting Council voted to allow retailers to place racks on the footpath during December and January to try and boost trade, responding to a plea from the Ballina Retailers Action Group (BRAG).
Council plans to review the trial at the end of January and Lyn, a BRAG member, says retailers are eagerly awaiting the decision.
Without the racks it can be very hard to entice customers in. Weve definitely seen an increase in business since they went out, Lyn said. Having the racks brings atmosphere to the street and makes it more inviting for people to browse and shop. The racks are right up against the wall and they dont disturb people at all skateboarders and bicycles cause far more havoc.
In February 2005 Council adopted an outdoor advertising policy, cracking down on all footpath displays including racks and A-frame signs. A-frame signs and other forms of advertising are still not permitted as part of the trial.
A lot of customers commented when we had to bring the racks in, Lyn said. I think people enjoy seeing them out again, and I know the retailers all love it!
While the vote for the trial was unanimous, Cr John Felsch had some concerns that racks on the footpath could cause a safety hazard.
These things (racks) become lethal weapons in a gust, said Cr Felsch. But the shop keepers have been very responsible and have shown great presence of mind by not exploiting the opportunity during the trial. These people have to survive with high rents and I feel sorry for them after the exorbitant business rate increase last year we will choke people out of this Shire if we continue these rate increases. So if people want market-style shopping in the street and it helps retailers, let them have it.
The trial ends on January 31. Council is likely to make a decision on whether the policy becomes permanent at its February 22 meeting.
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