Not all doom and gloom

MR BOU-Hamden raises an interesting point in his letter (Echo, March 7).

Business closures and empty shops are not a good look, however the causes are many and varied and I suspect he is looking, as so many others do, for a simple solution to a complex problem.

It's not the openings or closings that need to be considered, rather the vacancies as a percentage of the total retail space available. Any long-term trader in Lismore knows that 25 years ago retail space meant "The Block". Since then there have been Lismore Square 1 and 2, Goonellabah 1 and 2, Wyrallah Rd and Eastpoint (Goonellabah), as well as the creation of the mega-block (Keen, Woodlark, Molesworth and Conway). These represent a massive increase in available retail space.

Furthermore, the industrial areas of South Lismore and Goonellabah have taken most of the heavy retail from the block. Despite all these, the vacancy rate has stayed much the same. I see that as a job well done Lismore, not doom and gloom.

The 10 or more fruit shops, the eight or so local butchers, the locally owned hardware stores and the grocers have gone.

Names like AGR's, McLeans, Brown and Jolly, Carl Small, Hurfords and Graingers have disappeared. Many of us regret that these things have happened.

Lismore's retail landscape has changed and will continue to do so, and we now see each shopping precinct competing for discretionary dollars.

To cope, what is needed are new and creative ideas like those being rolled out by the council through the Lismore Business Promotion Panel and Art in the Heart that will allow Lismore to continue to prosper in this ever-changing retail environment. What is not needed is negativity.

Bill Sheaffe


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