Small business is tough, but Warwick optimistic
THOUSANDS of jobs have been slashed from the retail sector in regional Queensland but Warwick industry experts remain optimistic for market growth.
Statewide 15,600 positions from the sector have been cut as struggling retailers shut up shop, and empty stores are scattered around the Rose City CBD.
But Belle Vue Cafe owner Mark Favero said there were fewer empty shopfronts now than in the past three years.
"Rent is pretty reasonable for where we are and I think with a lot of landlords being small business owners as well, they try to help one another where they can," Mr Favero said.
"With a lot of businesses going online, and having greater overheads as a bricks-and-mortar store, it's hard to be competitive in that respect."
Southern Downs Realty principal Brent Bowles said as demand for online shopping grew, other businesses would fill the void in physical real estate.
New analysis of industry trends shows while the number working in retail is shrinking, sectors such as hospitality and healthcare are rising quickly.
"It is hard for a lot of shops to make a living any more," Mr Bowles said.
"But I do think other services and experiences, like hospitality, will make use of these spaces.
"Purely because of the things that are happening in Warwick, I think the business environment is changing for the better and it will be a bit of a snowball effect," Mr Bowles said.
Warwick Chamber of Commerce president Julia Keogh said there may be some hesitation from prospective tenants while Rose City Shoppingworld extensions are ongoing.
"I think people are positive but cautious," Ms Keogh said
"We're certainly not hearing tales of negativity and retailers saying they've had enough; I think more that it's waiting to see what's coming.
"I do know a lot of shop- front owners are looking forward to the work being all finished and having Fitzroy St open again.
"We haven't actually seen a massive decrease in CBD occupation but I think we'll have more niche stores once Rose City is done."
Other Warwick residents however were not as confident in the business environment.
"It's pretty sad to see but I don't think anything's going to change - people haven't got any money to spend," Linda Kinsella said.
"My bank - the Bank of Queensland - closed here so I have to go to Toowoomba," Debbie Armstrong said.
"It can be a vicious cycle; I know people go for cheaper prices in Toowoomba but then people put the prices up here to make up for that."