By Ewen McRae
Local business groups are calling on residents to shop local as the impact of the coronavirus starts to hit.
With many residents self isolating as the crisis intensifies, small businesses in Melton and Moorabool have been among the most affected, with shopping strips quieter and spending down.
BizConnect Moorabool president Ian Prince said while the initial impact of the virus was high spending, the long term effects were starting to be felt.
“My first thought was that business would thrive as people went bulk buying of stock, but that doesn’t last long,” Mr Prince said.
“Eventually people have spent what they have to, they’ve stocked up, and we end up with a fair downturn.
“It’s going to be tough for local business as people stop buying items that aren’t essential.”
Mr Prince said he had noticed a considerable drop in foot traffic in the town centres, but said it was important for residents to continue to support small business wherever possible as the pandemic continues.
“We’re not set up for a town that could shut down tomorrow, so we have to support our local business,” he said.
“If we can support each other through this it will help business, but it will also help the towns that are going to be doing it tough.”
Melton council runs the Venture Melton Business Network, a collection of local businesses that work together to grow business in the region, and council engagement and advocacy manager Sean McManus echoed the shop local message.
“Supporting local businesses has an enormous impact on the people who run them, their staff and their families, as well as our local economy,” he said.
“If every adult living in the City of Melton spends just $5 a week at locally owned businesses, the flow-on could add more than $100 million to the local economy each year and could support about 2000 full-time jobs.
“Consider shopping online or over the phone at a local business, buy a gift card, or order takeaway from your favourite local restaurant.
“It’s really important that we all do everything we can to help sustain local businesses through this time so that they’re still able to provide their quality services in the long-term.”