While council's numbers for 2021 indicate an increase in Bathurst businesses, residents are still concerned with the number of shops closing down in the CBD and what this means for the town.
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More and more it seems 'for sale' and 'for lease' signs are popping up in empty buildings, and commercial property developer Megan Bolam-Williams said it's important to look after the community's small businesses.
"When COVID hit, the thing that really struck me and stays with me is small business people are tough and they're stoic, they just have this mentality of soldiering on," Ms Bolam-Williams said.
"They often think that they just have to deal with it on their own and as a landlord I try to support my clients in the best way we can."
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Ms Bolam-Williams is a landlord with clients ranging from large government organisations to sole operators.
Through her role, she has noticed some businesses have been hit harder than others, depending on the industry, but each one plays just as important a part as the next in servicing the community.
While council statistics show an increase in numbers during the 2021 period, with 257 business closures and 385 new businesses registered, there's still a number of vacant shops around Bathurst.
"There's a lot of talk about creating a CBD that's welcoming and friendly and I can tell you now, if you've got a whole lot of empty shops there's nothing welcoming and friendly about that," Ms Bolam-Williams said.
"I know what it costs people to run a business [and] I hate hearing of anyone struggling or having to close down in Bathurst.
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"People put their heart and soul into these businesses."
According to director of environmental, planning and building services Neil Southorn, a major competitor for Bathurst retail is the accessibility of online shopping.
Mr Southorn said retailers in Bathurst close down when residents stop shopping locally and it's no longer viable to keep the store operating.
"For national retailers, the decision to leave Bathurst is made at the head office level and based on sales and profits achieved by that store," he said.
"The shift to online has led to a decline in sales for many national bricks and mortar stores, who have found they are often able to service regional markets through their online channels.
"Bathurst residents can also play an important role by choosing to shop local where possible."
Mr Southorn said council is looking at ways to increase the strength of bricks and mortar retail, and the Bathurst Town Centre Masterplan is working to address this.
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