Wagga’s shops have stood strong against online competition this season, carving out their own place through a focus on customer service and unique products.
Confetti owner Melanie Hamilton said she’s seen a solid flow of customers through her doors.
“It was a slow start into Christmas but once the swing of festivities hit-in Christmas trade was very buoyant,” Ms Hamilton said.
Danielle Pascoe, president of the Wagga Business Chamber said while they haven’t received individual feedback from retailers on Christmas trading yet, they’re happy Boxing Day sales remain an option for local shops.
“We think it’s a positive thing for the community and we’re hoping it will stem some of the leakage that happens in terms of customers this year going online,” Ms Pascoe said.
“It’s really just ensuring that our money stays in our community- giving retailers the opportunity to make the choice to open allows them to better compete in that space.”
Australia Post reported its biggest ever delivery day on Monday December 12 with over two-and-a-half million packages passing through the network, many of them Wagga-bound.
“Online shopping is very popular in Wagga, growing at 18 per cent year on year,” an Australia Post spokesperson said.
“Popular items purchased by local residents include health and beauty (cosmetics) growing at 25 per cent, and fashion which is growing by 22 per cent.”
Ms Hamilton said while the growth of online retailers has an impact, bricks and mortar stores have stood up to the challenge.
“Customers are looking for the unique and for that customer service experience- with online purchases there’s always the chance of disappointment when gifts don’t turn up on time, which comes with being isolated,” she said.
“Our main focus is customer service and assisting with gift wrapping and getting the chance to talk to the customers and find the perfect gift for them.”
It remains a busy period with international and visiting guests in the market for local goods.
“Taking advantage of the extra traffic in the region is also useful in a period of high activity economically and from a tourism perspective,” Ms Pascoe said.