ECONOMY BOOST: Rockhampton retail jobs have increased by 600 jobs since 2013.
ECONOMY BOOST: Rockhampton retail jobs have increased by 600 jobs since 2013. Renee Albrecht

Regional towns feel retail pinch, but not Rockhampton

IT seems while most of regional Queensland has felt the retail pinch, Rockhampton hasn't felt it at all.

Conus Business Consultancy Services data shows retail job numbers are plummeting in places like Mackay and Toowoomba but Rockhampton has seen a rise of 600 new jobs since 2013.

With 10,500 retail jobs alive and well in the region, it appears confidence in the local economy has risen due to projects like Adani and the expansion of Stockland Rockhampton.

President of the Capricornia Chamber of Commerce, Peter Fraser, said while he was a little surprised to see the figures it does support what he has been saying for some time.

"Our economy here in Rockhampton is not as bad as people's perception has been,” Mr Fraser said.

"Aldi would not be committing to put in two shops here if it had doubts of our economy, H&M would be in the exact same boat and Peter Alexander as well.

"We've now seen all of that come home to roost because of the Adani announcement that they have confidence in our economy to be able to sustain a FIFO workforce and be able to house, feed, clothe and educate the workforce families.”

Mr Fraser said major retailers had chosen to expand in Rockhampton over Mackay and Gladstone and for good reason.

Places such as Gladstone, Mackay and Townsville have felt the pinch due to the downturn in mining construction and manufacturing. With people choosing to leave town and other locals having to reduce spending, the retail sector has felt the effect.

While other towns are pulling back on business, Rockhampton retailers and shopping centres are planning to expand.

"Stocklands announced an expansion a few months ago,” Mr Fraser said.

"They don't normally make decisions like that unless it's based on evidence moving forward that they are going to be able to fill their centre and get a return on their money.”

While Rockhampton is seemingly thriving, places like Mackay have seen a drop of 600 jobs since 2013 with the Sunshine Coast seeing a drop of 4600 and outback Queensland a drop of 800.

According to a new analysis of industry trends, the loss of jobs can be attributed to the popularity of online shopping, downturn in mining construction and manufacturing and the preference for large retail chains over small business.

Industry trends data also showed that while retail is shrinking, employment levels in sectors such as hospitality and healthcare are rising fast, with people choosing to spend money on services instead of buying goods.



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