‘Scary’ wave of closures hits popular tourist strip

 

Noosa businesses have been forced to adapt or succumb to a "rollercoaster" of trade slumps as a wave of shutdowns batters one of the suburb's most popular streets.

At least 15 prime lots stand empty, bearing "For Lease" signs across uncharacteristically quiet Hastings St and Noosa Junction, in what surviving Noosa business owners called a "scary" sight.

Empty Shopfronts are on the rise on Hastings Street and at Noosa Junction.
Empty Shopfronts are on the rise on Hastings Street and at Noosa Junction.

Domestic border closures had stripped the beloved surfing destination of its usual crowd of NSW and Victorian travellers.

"Melbourne and Sydney are obviously the key destinations … and not having them able to come up here has hurt us badly," Noosa Chamber of Commerce President Rob Neely said.

"Hastings Street is pretty much the most costly rent per square metre in Australia and has been for some time."

 

Jets swimwear is one of many empty shopfronts on Hastings Street.
Jets swimwear is one of many empty shopfronts on Hastings Street.

 

 

"If you don't have people in the street you can't sell anything."

Boy Driessen and his partner Mell Thompson signed the lease for their Hasting Street cafe and Gin bar, Moonstruck, in April - the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

Moonstruck Coffee and Gin Bar owners Boy Driessen and Mell Thompson opened their business on Hastings street in Noosa right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and have managed to ride the rollercoaster well so far.
Moonstruck Coffee and Gin Bar owners Boy Driessen and Mell Thompson opened their business on Hastings street in Noosa right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and have managed to ride the rollercoaster well so far.

 

Since then, Mr Driessen said, trade had been a "rollercoaster".

"Some days you're busy, some days you're not," he said.

"You're understaffed or you're overstaffed because we expect it to be busy."

Mr Driessen said he had tailored Moonstruck's brand to securing consistent local trade, as opposed to come-and-go visitors.

"I thought 85 per cent of the revenue would be tourism, but it's turned out to be the other way round," he said.

 

 

Empty Shopfronts on Hastings Street – where rent is among the most costly per square metre in Australia.
Empty Shopfronts on Hastings Street – where rent is among the most costly per square metre in Australia.

"I'm surprised how loyal the locals are … it's a tourist town … but it's a community still."

Retail business had developed a similar strategy, with Lovely Things Gift Store owner Rachel Sullivan saying Noosa Junction was "evolving" to accommodate locals.

Noosa Chamber of Commerce Secretary Glen Nichols said the Chamber had diversified its strategy to help struggling businesses to secure local trade.

The usually bustling Hastings Street is much quieter these days.
The usually bustling Hastings Street is much quieter these days.

"We're aiming to help them through the future, guide them, provide services, making connections," he said.

"That market … that 40 or 50 per cent we have from down south just hasn't been able to get through."

"We need as much support and help as we can get locally.

"There are probably more vacancy signs here than there should be."

An empty shopfront at Noosa Junction, as border closures keep tourists away.
An empty shopfront at Noosa Junction, as border closures keep tourists away.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Scary' wave of closures hits popular tourist strip



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