THE Blue Lake city will be “open for business” Christmas Day as the hospitality and retail sector continues to embrace public holiday trading.
A number of eateries will join traditional services such as petrol outlets in throwing their doors open to locals and visitors alike on Tuesday in a move which has received high praise from Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce interim president Biddie Shearing.
Ms Shearing applauded those in the business sector who had “taken the leap of faith” to open on Christmas Day and across the festive holiday period to ensure “some level of service” was available in the community.
“A few years ago we did not have that representation and we got a bit slammed as a city that we were not open for business,” Ms Shearing said.
“I really believe businesses have had a good think about that and are working a way around it, whether some are saying this year its my turn, next year you can do it,” she said.
The Mount Gambier Hotel will open up its full establishment for the first time in six years, with its Christmas lunch time slot already fully booked and dinner filling fast.
While the bottleshop is traditionally open for a few hours in the morning, it is expected trade will start at 9am and continue through until 9pm, while the dining area will open at 11.30am and trade into the evening.
“It is going to be an unknown because in the past it is usually open for lunch then close the door,” hotel manager Jarrad Mutton said.
“We will stay open for trade and will see where the night goes.
“We’ll take the risk and hopefully reap the rewards.”
Mr Mutton said the hotel would gauge the response from Tuesday for future years, with a Christmas breakfast among the ideas floated should this year be a success.
“We’re opening to give back to the customers and take the stress off people in town for Christmas,” he said.
“Our accommodation is also full with tourists coming to town and this gives them somewhere to go for lunch.”
Ms Shearing said the city’s visitor economy was poised to capitalise over the holiday period.
“Mount Gambier seems to do really well at this time of year, whether its warm or not so warm – we seem to have a fairly steady stream.
“We need to embrace tourism, it is new money in the area and we need to tip them (visitors) upside down and get as much money as we can before they leave and go somewhere else.”
Ms Shearing said Mount Gambier’s business sector had also evolved to combat disruption caused by online shopping in recent years.
“I have really noticed our retail sector has stepped up and embraced technology to the point where they are now offering things like click and collect offers,” she said.
“If they do not have their own website, they are embracing social media platforms to get their share of business that’s out there.
“It is not necessarily just about retail either, it is the other peripheral services we have and they are just as important to shop local for.
“Our membership base is quite diverse and while there are a number of retail businesses, we also have a lot of professional services that are part of our make-up.
“They are just as important to be considered as an option at a local level before shooting off to the big smoke.”