The following assessment of the factors impacting specialist photo retailers in Australia was contributed by Ian Benjamin, who along with partner Sue Benjamin recently closed his Eumundi Photo Hut store in Queensland:
My views on the current business situation, being a retailer just 150 metres from the famous Eumundi Markets (who are hurting too), are as follows:
1.The high Australian $ reduces overseas and Australian tourism to the Sunshine Coast, the key industry in this area, which reduces significantly the locals spend on everything except essential commodities.
2.The latent yet severe impact of the GFC on Australian communities and the future imminent threats of the US debt and EU debt issues, will impact on our economics and the Australian psyche.
3.The impact of natural disasters (locally, for example, floods and internationally events like the Christchurch earthquake and Japan tsunami) threatens the Australian psyche. This fear translates to a pulling back on spending (evidenced by higher savings rates) which is adversely affecting business incomes
4.The increasing swing to online trading makes a retail outlet more a place ‘to try a product but not buy a product’.
5.The sustained impact of the nameless (and shameless) big retailers who in the name of competition have severely eroded small and medium specialist retail businesses.
6.The massive electronic sharing of photos and information brings us to a different way of living and requires a different range of support services and training to help those floundering in its wake.
However, I have no regrets, despite shouldering some debt. Our customers will miss us because we did have a personalised service. My concern is that one day we will wake up, walk outside and say, ‘where have all the shops gone?’
– Ian Benjamin