Local business leaders are driving home the message to adapt to the industry’s constantly changing conditions to survive.
It comes as a number of national chains have pulled the plug in regional areas this year.
Big players Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch and Masters have all fallen recently, prompting businesses to take another look at their sales strategies.
Local business success story Thingdom, which was established in the last quarter of 2015 and is solely an online retailer, has more than doubled in size in 2016.
Thingdom owner Ryan Giltrap, with his wife and business partner Kate, saw a hole in the market and went for it.
Mr Giltrap said the decision to start an online store was to maintain lifestyle flexibility with a young family.
They were able to take a break over Christmas while the store remained open to take orders.
“You’re making sales while you sleep,” Mr Giltrap said.
“And we can pack orders after the kids have gone to bed.”
The entrepreneur said on a per capita basis, a large portion of Thingdom’s sales go to more remote areas, such as Western Australia or the Northern Territory.
“We only sell about 2 per cent (of total sales) to Wagga,” Mr Giltrap said.
He said for any business to survive into the future, they needed to offer something that no one else could.
“You have to find something different (to what other businesses offer),” Mr Giltrap said.
“Whether it’s doing something better, cheaper, or faster. There’s no point in copying another business.”
Wagga co-working space Working Spaces founder Simone Eyles said businesses could have their cake and eat it too over the holiday season if they were willing to embrace the online marketplace.
The Boxing Day sales were dominated by national stores being open in Wagga’s CBD, but Ms Eyles said smaller local businesses could still compete without having to have a bricks-and-mortar store open.
“Local businesses could have had a sale online,” Ms Eyles said.
“They could have had a code that people could have entered to receive a discount.
“(Local businesses) could have used social media and emails to promote the sale (so staff and owners could take a break over the Christmas holidays).”
Member for Riverina and Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said local businesses could differentiate themselves by offering a better experience for the consumer.
“Some clothing stores in Wagga have been around for years because they not only offer quality products but they have great customer service as well,” Mr McCormack said.
“Despite the fact there are cheaper clothing options, they continue to survive and thrive.”
Wagga online retailer Shaela Mauger, who owns boutique gift shop Wooden It Be…, said she wouldn’t have been able to start her business if it wasn’t for the online marketplace, and has no plans to open a physical store.
“It gives me the flexibility to get it all done and I can (send products) all over Australia,” Ms Mauger said.