REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: New regional residents seeking shopping options

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Regional real estate is experiencing a boom, according to agents, with supply unable to keep up. Photo: Shutterstock

Regional real estate is experiencing a boom, according to agents, with supply unable to keep up. Photo: Shutterstock

GROWING up in a small country town, of about 300 people, we did not have all the shopping amenities available, but you better believe the nearest regional centre did.

It was something we were used to - the travelling to the bigger centres.

And now it seems, the constant message that keeps coming through in the past 12 months, is there has been a real resurgence in the popularity of regional towns.

Having so many people working from home means we don't all need to live in capital cities, so people are embracing the lifestyle of country living.

But if more people are moving to the country, why are there so many regional shops closing down?

It's not necessarily the small businesses, which keep money in town, but the larger players that, while they may ship the profits out, also employ a lot of locals.

The latest closure of a shoe shop in Dubbo, in Central West NSW, severely reduces the choices for shoe shopping in that town, and shoes are not something I like to buy online.

It's easy enough to suggest the people of Dubbo could just take a drive to the next town. But what about the people of Bourke or Cobar, in far North West NSW, who were already driving big distances for their shopping?

After more than a decade in operation, the Dubbo shoe shop is closing this week after a "slow decline".

After more than a decade in operation, the Dubbo shoe shop is closing this week after a "slow decline".

Then there is the example of a bank in Rainbow, Victoria's southern Mallee.

Apparently another lesson of the past year is that more and more people are embracing online services, including the previous stand outs in the older generations.

And how are they rewarded for making the effort to try these technologies? By losing the benefits of face-to-face banking.

While I am a big advocate for the potential this online shopping trend has to support regional businesses, we can't have it all go online and lose the jobs, the convenience and the community that comes with bricks, mortar and an actual person to talk to.

I don't have the answers. But at a time when regional Australia has the potential to really boom, we can't afford to lose what we already have.

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