Cairns struggles to fill retail shops

A drop in tourist numbers has resulted in a vacant and lifeless CBD retail district in Cairns.

According to an audit by The Weekend Post this week, about one in seven street level shops in the city’s CBD are vacant.

The figures showed that of 693 retail stores, 13 per cent were unoccupied.

According to the study, Lake and Abbott streets were the worst affected, while Grafton St, Shields St and the Esplanade had the best occupancy rates.

Cairns Chamber of Commerce inner-city taskforce chairwoman Shelly Evans-Wild told Cairns News that vacancy rates in the CBD were most likely the result of a downturn in the economy and tourism in the region.

“It is a concern but the taskforce is looking at ways of resolving that rather than moaning about it," Ms Evans-Wild said.

"There is huge support from the traders to band together and do some proactive work to bring people back."

Ms Evans-Wild said some areas of the CBD had been earmarked for improvement.

She said the production of a brochure highlighting parking areas in the city was being considered while customer service awards for local businesses would be introduced later this year.

Caravella Properties general manager Paul Gudaitis, responsible for several properties on the Esplanade and Grafton St, said it was up to the government to find a solution to the rising CBD retail shop vacancies.

"Maybe our government isn't doing enough to get people here, to encourage them to come here," Mr Gudaitis said.

"We have to be more positive about the place. If that happens then people from down south will come up," he said.

A drop in tourist numbers has resulted in a vacant and lifeless CBD retail district in Cairns.

According to an audit by The Weekend Post this week, about one in seven street level shops in the city’s CBD are vacant.

The figures showed that of 693 retail stores, 13 per cent were unoccupied.

According to the study, Lake and Abbott streets were the worst affected, while Grafton St, Shields St and the Esplanade had the best occupancy rates.

Cairns Chamber of Commerce inner-city taskforce chairwoman Shelly Evans-Wild told Cairns News that vacancy rates in the CBD were most likely the result of a downturn in the economy and tourism in the region.

“It is a concern but the taskforce is looking at ways of resolving that rather than moaning about it," Ms Evans-Wild said.

"There is huge support from the traders to band together and do some proactive work to bring people back."

Ms Evans-Wild said some areas of the CBD had been earmarked for improvement.

She said the production of a brochure highlighting parking areas in the city was being considered while customer service awards for local businesses would be introduced later this year.

Caravella Properties general manager Paul Gudaitis, responsible for several properties on the Esplanade and Grafton St, said it was up to the government to find a solution to the rising CBD retail shop vacancies.

"Maybe our government isn't doing enough to get people here, to encourage them to come here," Mr Gudaitis said.

"We have to be more positive about the place. If that happens then people from down south will come up," he said.

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