Occupancy rates in Gympie CBD defy COVID, signal upturn
GYMPIE’S CBD has so far managed to avoid a beating at the hands of COVID-19 with the number of empty shops down 16 per cent from last year.
An investigation in the state’s dying main streets last year revealed 62 stores were vacant in and around the Mary St precinct 12 months ago.
It was one of the worst-hit regions in Queensland.
That number has now dropped to 52, a welcome decline which happened despite the closure of high-profile CBD stores like Dimmeys and the pandemic forcing some businesses to keep their doors shut.
Gympie Chamber of Commerce president and Mary St business owner Tony Goodman was “cautiously confident” about the city centre’s future.
“At the moment things are bubbling along quite nicely,” he said.
A big part of this was the wide array of stimulus packages rolled out by the Federal Government, and Gympie Regional Council’s “buy local” push – although, he said, some businesses outside the CBD bubble were still finding it tough.
Two concerns remained: the ever-present threat of a second wave and the inevitable end of government support.
“It’ll be interesting to see at the end of September,” Mr Goodman said.
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Mr Goodman, who has called for State Government decentralisation in the past, again urged the opening of departmental branches in regions like Gympie to keep reducing the empty shop count.
“I would be a huge shot in the arm,” he said, pointing out one of these “anchor tenants” could offer 30-50 jobs right in the heart of the region.
And he was optimistic the economy could weather the pandemic and achieve a V-shaped economic recovery, instead of it rebounding in a more rounded way or flatlining altogether.