SMALL businesses across the Limestone Coast are starting to feel the pinch of the coronavirus outbreak with the frequency of foot traffic and sales both affected.
In the Blue Lake city, several shopfronts in the central business district have reported a drop in visitation, which is being attributed to public uncertainty over the virus.
Lachy and Taryn Mutton said their operations – including Sorrentos Cafe, 5290 Bar and Function Room and Little Rippa Brewing Company – were just some of many which had been impacted.
Mr Mutton said there was a downturn in trade last week, but urged the business community to remain positive.
“We believe from speaking with people that most businesses are in the same boat as us,” Mr Mutton said
“Its biggest impact for us would be functions and catering jobs we had planned to be involved in and them all being cancelled suddenly.
“We will miss out on in excess of $20,000 worth of jobs when considering events like Fringe Mount Gambier, Generations in Jazz and council-ran events cancelled.”
Mr Mutton said uncertainty caused by the virus would continue to impact the hospitality industry due to a decrease in tourism.
“We understand why people are not travelling during this time, but when events are cancelled we are inevitably going to see less people in town,” Mr Mutton said.
“It is not where you want to be as a small business, you want to be looking at ways to improve and grow your business.
“To be operating out of a damage-control scenario is not a great feeling.”
Mr Mutton said the outbreak had forced his business to reconsider its expansion plans given the uncertainty.
“One of the biggest concerns is not knowing when the end point will be,” he said.
“It is very hard to put actions plans into place when you do not know when the outcome is going to be.”
Mr Mutton said Sorrentos Cafe would launch a temporary drive-thru to allow customers to collect takeaway options without having to leave their vehicle.
“We have considered some form of delivery, but the logistics of it are not very simple.
“Our usual sanitary procedures will remain and now more than ever businesses and everybody needs to do the right thing.”
The Mount Gambier businessman urged residents to continue to ‘shop local’.
“We have always been strong supporters of supporting local business, no matter how big or small.
“It will be business as usual here and we trying to remain positive.”