LOCAL retailers say they remain optimistic despite what has been described as an Australia-wide fall in consumer spending in which the sector has slumped to levels not seen since the 1990 recession.
Bureau of Statistics figures show retail expenditure was significantly worse than expected, with clothing, footwear and personal accessories the hardest hit.
Despite the figures, Bathurst retailers said it's not all doom and gloom.
Bronwyn Aberley, who owns Gorgeousness boutique, said she thinks smaller retailers are better positioned than big operators in the marketplace and it's reflected in sales.
"I think we are going okay," she said. "We are really lucky because we offer something different and have loyal, regular clients.
"Being a boutique really sets us apart."
She said people come into the store from Sydney and Melbourne.
"I think people still want to spend, but they are sick of seeing all the same stuff," she said.
Abbie Miller, who manages the furniture and bedding department at Harvey Norman, said while sales have been strong since the new financial year, she feels customers are buying needs, rather than wants.
"We're finding people are buying different things at the moment," she said.
"Bedding sales have been really good; the items that people need are still selling really well.
"I think it's more the luxury items that are dropping off."
Ms Miller said she had seen a few customers delaying a purchase.
"We will get people saying they really like something, but they are going to wait until after Christmas," she said.
"I've heard that a bit from farming families - they are putting off buying until after it rains."
While pleased local retailers seem to be faring better than others across Australia, Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards said "business conditions are tough, whether it's retail or another sector".
"The drought here is certainly having a major impact on all businesses," he said.
He said the climate illustrated the need for communities to continue shopping locally.