Our say | There’s a price to pay for saving a few dollars

IKEA’s aggressive move into regional NSW is just one more challenge for local businesses during what is already a challenging time.

The terrible drought that has gripped most of NSW is already drying up dollars across the counter for local stores.

Farmers who have been forced to buy in feed for their stock do not have that money to spend elsewhere and there is a flow-on effect for other businesses in regional areas.

Even before the drought, though, times were changing for regional businesses. The continuing rise of online shopping has seen a marked change in consumer habits over the past decade or so and left traditional shops – saddled with high real estate and employee costs – vulnerable to online opposition.

IKEA is just another competitor in this field, although a major restructure of the company’s operations that was announced this week means it will be competing in our region much more than ever before.

Delivery for online shoppers in Bathurst will start at just $9 for IKEA parcels and the company is being even more aggressive in Orange where bulky items – including sofas and kitchens – will be home-delivered for as little as $69.

That is undoubtedly a win for consumers and all shoppers will inevitably look at the price tag as a big part of their decision-making, but we must also except there is a price to be paid for paying less.

It’s often been said that local small businesses are the backbone of a community, employing local people and contributing to the local culture.

Local small businesses support local schools, sporting clubs and service groups, and are a vital part of the local social fabric.

By contrast, online retailing giants – particularly those with an overseas headquarters – contribute nothing to the local community.

They do not employ local people and they drag money out of the local economy.

But they do provide convenience and value – two great attractions for any shopper – and the new world of online retail is here to stay.

Local businesses must do their best to fight back and local people need to support them by being conscious of the full impact of their buying choices.

That doesn’t mean we should never buy online, but it does mean we should always first ask ourselves if there’s a better way to spend that dollar.