With less than a week to go before Christmas, Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie has urged regional Victorians to support local businesses in the last minute Christmas rush.
Senator McKenzie said small businesses were the life blood of regional economies, but relied upon strong local demand to survive.
‘‘As more people shop online, many small businesses are facing serious challenges,’’ she said.
‘‘This is why we need to lower the GST threshold on foreign online purchases, down from $1000.’’
‘‘We need to create a more level playing field as consumers increasingly head online to make their purchases.’’
According to the Australian National Retailers Association, this year Victorian online spending on foreign websites is projected to increase by more than 20 per cent compared to last year.
In contrast, domestic ‘bricks and mortar’ spending is only projected to increase by 0.8 per cent on last year.
Overall, this Christmas trading period is expected to be strong, with total domestic spending in Victoria set to rise 3.9 per cent on last year’s sales.
Senator McKenzie said many small businesses were adapting to the emerging online retail marketplace with great success.
‘‘This is simply about making the playing field fair, so that foreign retailers do not have an unfair advantage over Australian businesses,’’ she said.
According to Business Victoria, in June 2011 there were approximately 522,896 small businesses in Victoria, 28 per cent of which were located in regional Victoria.
Small businesses make up the largest proportion of all businesses in regional Victoria.
Senator McKenzie said small businesses created jobs, injected money into the local economy and provided financial support for community organisations and events.
‘‘I urge everyone to shop locally for their Christmas gifts and show support for small business operators of regional Victoria.’’
Media contact: Kathleen Tonini 0400530027