Grim figures out: Gympie doesn’t make it like we used to
A THREE-year run of economic growth in Gympie has ended with two reports finding Gympie’s gross domestic product has shrunk over the past year.
According to the reports – one by SGS Economics and Planning and the other by online data hub Economyid – the region’s economy dipped by .4 to .8 per cent in 2018-19.
SGSEP reported the higher decline in their latest GDP Report: Economic Performance of Australia’s and Cities and Region determining the .8 per cent drop put the region’s GDP at $1.97 billion.
This was against an overall regional Queensland growth of .1 per cent for 2018-19.
The news was slightly better with Economyid; it put the regions GDP at $2.19 billion with a .4 per cent shrinkage.
Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman said he was not surprised by the reported drop.
“The drought has had quite a big impact,” Mr Goodman said.
And the region’s downturn was a small part of wider trend across Australia.
“It’s going back to GFC levels, if not the early 90s recession which was a really bad one.
“As a retailer we’ve been in a retail recession for 12 months, and there’s been a wage recession as well.
“It’s knocked discretionary spending out of the ballpark.
“The general feeling I’ve got from traders is they’re doing it tough.”
It was an opinion shared by Twiga Books and Toyworld owner Lorraine Broadley, who said last year was “one of the toughest” she’d experienced in two decades of trading.
“Disposable income has dropped,” Mrs Broadley said.
“Because of that, people are looking towards op shop shopping.”
She said this was a perfectly fine choice for consumers to make; but when added on top of the online shopping push, retailers were being pinched.
“The problem we’ve got is our costs coming in from overseas are not getting cheaper,” she said.
“We’re feeling the squeeze there, too.”
And with overhead costs like electricity rising “it’s very tricky to meet consumer expectations”.
“It’s a major issue in regional and rural Australia,” Mrs Broadley said.
Still, Mr Goodman said although it was a “you’ve got to call it like you see it” situation, it was crucial to look for the silver lining.
“As bad as it is, how can we improve the situation?” Mr Goodman said.
One positive is that some industries might be immune to any downturn.
PC Place owner Nick Green said he had spoken to retailers who were finding it hard, but his store had grown over the past year.
“For us it’s been quite good,” Mr Green said.
The growth of cloud services and business moving further forward technologically were a part of his shop’s immunity to the downturn, he said.
“Because of small businesses getting on board with small business applications, that will help us further,” he said.
But the wider effect on the region’s businesses had not gone unnoticed.
“It’s unfortunate to see so many shops close their doors,” he said.