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Noel Smith of Low Pressure Surf Co has been in business in Prince Street, Grafton for 20 years. As social distancing restrictions start to lift and stores that have been closed begin to reopen, Noel is encouraging the community to remember to shop local. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Retail stores take stock of business

With the impact of COVID -19 most retail stores are doing it tough; some have had to close others have reduced their hours and other have had to think outside the square for different ways of doing their business.

One business owner from the lower river (who did not wish to be named), said that she has been a hairdresser for 30 years and has never seen anything impact on business, the way that COVID -19 has.

“I’ve gone from working five days a week – long hours, sometimes from 7am – 7.30pm down to two days a week,” she said.

“I think it’s because everyone’s trying to do the right thing, by staying at home – which is a good thing, but it doesn’t pay the bills,” she said.

“The clients have dropped off because they are listening to the government’s advice to stay at home and self-isolate.

“We’ve been told by the government that we are an essential service and can keep working.

“I’m struggling to pay my rent and my junior hairdresser.

“The town looks like a Sunday, everyday – that’s how quiet it is.
“A lot of businesses that are still open, have cut back their hours.
“Some of the other hairdressers have decided to just close their doors – during this period,” she said.

Lower Clarence Stationery owner David Ball said that his business experienced an early rush before plateauing.

“After the government advised us that, ‘if we could work from home – we should’, we had a rush on stationery supplies,” David said.

“But it’s reached a stage now where everyone has enough stock and the numbers of customers have diminished.

“So, we have reduced our hours from 10am – 3pm, until things pick up again.

“It’s been tough, adjusting our hours and social distancing and things like that, but we’re trying to do our best to keep the doors open to service the community,” he said.

Noel Smith of Low Pressure Surf Co and Out the Back – surf outlet, has been in business in Prince Street, Grafton for 20 years this year.

Noel said that in August last year, he opened a new shop ‘Out the Back’ and that has been hit pretty hard by the downturn in business.

“The first week of the so called, lock down was pretty slow,” Noel said.

“Since then we’ve just struggled up until last week, which was pretty strong, and things are looking up.

“Prince Street of a morning is usually busy and there has been a bit of activity around between 9am and 12 with the cafes still doing their takeaways, but then after lunch it goes very quiet.

“Some of the chain stores in Prince Street like Cotton On and Rockmans have closed and from what I’ve seen in the shopping centres most of the chain stores in there have closed as well, except for the supermarkets. So, I’m sure they have had a major downturn in there.

“Initially there were a few independent businesses that closed their doors for a week or two and after that they slowly reopened. Now were looking at all but a couple of the chain stores, opening full on,” he said.

Noel said that with the sudden drop in temperature at the end of last week, people were out on the weekend looking for warmer clothing.

“As restrictions start to ease up, I think that businesses have to start and reopen,” Noel said.

“I’d like to see everyone shop local and spend that stimulus money.

“Stay local and shop with the local people that live here,” he said.

The Grafton Chamber of Commerce have been doing there best to keep the business community updated and connected throughout this difficult time.

The Chamber are constantly updating both their website and Facebook pages, notifying the community as to what businesses are open in both Grafton and South Grafton. As social distancing restrictions become more relaxed, more businesses will start to re-open.

For more information, check out both of these sites.
Facebook – Grafton Chamber of Commerce and www.graftonchamberofcommerce.org.au

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