Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
Whether you are already ticking off items on your list or yet to begin, perhaps give some thought to helping retailers in struggling regional towns by taking advantage of some of campaigns urging people to support businesses in drought-affected areas.
Drought continues to have a severe impact on businesses, as the NSW Business Chamber's latest quarterly business conditions survey confirms. Farming areas in the Hunter region are not immune. The impact of the drought goes well beyond the farm gate, with spending restrictions affecting all business operators.
The chamber's 2018 drought survey showed 85 per cent of businesses had been affected, with one-third indicating the viability of their business was at risk. There's been little relief for drought-affected areas since then, so we can only assume the situation has worsened.
You may have heard of the #BuyFromTheBush social media campaign, which has provided on online platform for regional businesses to display their products. The Facebook page started in October already has more than 75,000 followers, with some great success stories.
Last week, the state government launched a Buy Regional campaign, targeting Christmas shoppers through an online store that links buyers with producers and retailers in the regions. The #BuyRegional campaign is also on Facebook and Instagram, and retailers can have their goods displayed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, business conditions are challenging everywhere at the moment, particularly in retail, and local businesses in all areas - city and country - need support. A report published by the Reserve Bank of Australia in June suggested that retail was suffering from the weakest business conditions of any industry in Australia.
By sharing our Christmas spend around, we can all spread some festive cheer and give businesses a much-needed boost.
The #BuyRegional campaign will be up for discussion when Small Business and Finance Minister Damien Tudehope visits Newcastle later this week. Mr Tudehope will speak at a Hunter Business Chamber lunch at Marina Views, Wickham, where he will also talk about government policies and programs available to help small business owners.
Tickets for the lunch are available on the Hunter Business Chamber website.