Festive spend up by almost $6 million showing a strong focus on shopping local

A hefty $54.36 million was spent in the Southern Grampians Shire by locals and visitors leading up to last Christmas – an 11 percent increase in spending in 2022, that has outshined Victoria’s average spending rise of 3.5 percent and the national average of 3.6 percent.

Southern Grampians Shire Council has released its Spendmapp figures for November and December 2023, which reveal that resident local spending totalled $35.95m locally, an increase of 9.9 percent compared to the previous year. Visitors to our shire spent $18.41m on goods and services offered by towns in the shire, which was a 14 percent increase from last year and outperforming the state and national averages of 2.25 percent and 1.97 percent.

The figure that shows how strongly committed our community was to shop locally over the Christmas period is the resident ‘escape spend’, expenditure by Southern Grampians residents outside of our shire, which only grew by 1.14 percent, compared to the state average of 6.61 percent and national average of 5.53 percent.

And, although locals spent $21.3m online shopping for Christmas, it was only a slight rise of 1.1 percent, which was enviously low compared to the state average of 6.61 percent and the national average of 5.53 percent.

The two biggest days of trade in the Southern Grampians Shire for the period were Black Friday (November 24) and the Friday before Christmas Day.

Mayor Councillor David Robertson said the post-Christmas spending results were due to a “real team effort” by the businesses, community organisations, residents, and council.

“We set the community a challenge of meeting a new spending target of $50 million before Christmas and this was surpassed by almost four million dollars,” said Cr Robertson. “These results have directly impacted the sustainability of local businesses and jobs and the overall prosperity of our community, so I’d like to say a very big thank you.

“Council, the Hamilton Regional Business Association (HRBA), and our traders supported an intensive shop local marketing campaign as well as community activities such as the busking and Christmas shop window competitions, the annual St Mary’s Christmas Parade, and the inaugural Hamilton Regional Business Association (HRBA) Rev Up Gray car show, which hauled in an extra $730,000 compared to the same day last year without the event.

“We also worked with CBD traders on the installation of fairy lights in Gray Street. But overall, it was a community-wide effort true team effort.

“When you consider that inflation has been between four and seven percent this year, we should all be very proud of this data, particularly the growth in Resident Escape Spend which, at 1.14%, meant in real terms (after inflation) it went backward,” he said.

The mayor said since out-of-shire spending was on a strong upward trend in 2022 and 2021 it was good to see council’s strategies and partnerships bringing positive results.

“Council has invested significantly in promoting the shire as a visitor destination and it’s great to see expenditure from visitors growing so significantly,” he said. “We have outstanding attractions, such as the Hamilton Gallery, Wannon, and Nigretta Falls, as well as our fabulous food experiences. Then add in our proximity to the coast, Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, and the Grampians National Park. It’s all here and we will keep working hard to attract visitors.”

The mayor encouraged residents to keep prioritising their local businesses when buying goods and services.

“You just never know what they have in stock or can source for you,” he said. “And, as the seasons change, there is always something new, fresh, and exciting in our retail stores and on the restaurant tables, so keep enjoying what’s on offer in our towns.”

HRBA president, Michael Byrne added: “We’re extremely pleased with the results. The ‘Think Local, Shop Local, Buy Local’ was the consistent call to action message promoted by HRBA and the council across several programs and activities. Working together and supporting our traders coupled with new events and street aesthetics has invigorated our Southern Grampians community to achieve these impressive figures.”

Spendmapp is a service that council subscribes to which provides data on spending in the shire. Businesses and organisations who would like to access Spendmapp statistics to assist with business or event planning can contact Daniel Shaw, Economic Development Support Officer on 0429 578 216.

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