Retail struggles not doom and gloom for Dubbo

There is no doubt that Australia's retailing sector is struggling. In fact, it is reported that the entire western world's retail sector is struggling. The reality is new technology has caused a lot of shoppers to now simply do their retail shopping online.

One only has to look at Dubbo's retail landscape over the last 25 years to see the big changes that are happening in the retail space. Retailers are evolving to try and fit in with the new way of selling merchandise.

I remember when I was still at teenaged high school student and worked weekends at Target here in Dubbo. Oh boy has that store changed. Back then, Target had an automotive department selling everything from car batteries to oil; a manchester department and cutting counter - even a paint department with a paint mixer. There would be rows of dinner sets and the clothing range was seemingly endless.

Now there is no automotive, manchester and paint departments, clothing lines are limited and there is only a small section of dinner wear available.

All these changes are no doubt a result of economic rationalisation as a result of a changed retailing environment that is under stress from onliners. Other retailers in town have a similar story. Big W is a shadow of its former self and Harris Scarf simply closed down.

You may ask, what does all this mean for Dubbo? It's not all doom and gloom. Examples from around the world indicate that while retailers of hard and softgoods will potentially struggle and be forced to evolve downwards; food retailers, hospitality providers, restaurants, events and other industries will flourish.

That's where Dubbo has a real opportunity to move with the times and continue our record economic growth.

Council's strategy of opening up our CBD to more restaurants and cafés, bring in more events and focus on recreational activities on the CBD riverbank is designed to keep people in our core business area despite the influx of the international online retailers.

The future will inevitably bring even more online retail competition. However, as families and people get busier, the demand for eating out and away from home entertainment and activities will increase. As a city that is the very space we have an opportunity to benefit.

Council is rapidly exploring ways to bring our CBD into a hospitality and foodies heaven. You may even notice that our own Old Dubbo Gaol is starting to move into the hospitality and events area. (I'm really looking forward to the next event "prohibition" at the gaol - it’s going to be fantastic!)

We are also looking at ways to acquire land in order to open the street and bring more of a civic precinct of open festive public space for all to enjoy.

Dubbo's economy will evolve. It's important that we understand and embrace the changes coming. That way, we are better equipped to deal with it.

Last Edited: 06 Aug 2020

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