Gold Coast visitor Savannah Roberts enjoyed some retail therapy with her mum in Byron Bay yesterday. Local traders say big crowds over Christmas and New Year’s have given them a boost, but January could be their make or break month.
BYRON Bay traders are cashing in on this year’s big holiday crowds after a horror summer in 2011, but not all are popping the champagne corks just yet.
While there are no official figures, accommodation is booked solid and the feeling in town is that visitor numbers are up.
Pubs, cafes, restaurants and takeaway stores have all been doing a roaring trade in the past few weeks.
Takeaway burger store Beloporto reported its best trading day in four years on New Year’s Day, while other restaurants have had queues outside their doors.
After last year’s wet weather, it has brought optimism to CBD business owners like Sevegne Newton.
Ms Newton, who owns a candle and beauty product store, said Christmas had been her store’s “best ever”, and it was looking like a busy summer.
“It feels like there are more people around,” she said.
“It was palpable on Boxing Day; you could just feel that swell.”
The mood among other businesses is more subdued, however, with several retail stores reporting Christmas New Year’s trade on par or below previous years.
Most said turnover had picked up this month, but they felt they were still “treading water”.
They said business was yet to return to the levels the town enjoyed seven to 10 years ago.
Some blamed a “younger” crowd in Byron Bay who spend most of their money on alcohol and food.
President of Byron United (the town’s Chamber of Commerce) Paul Waters said the message he was getting from traders was that it was going to be a strong season, but it all depended on the weather.
“January is our ‘hero’ month, the one that does it for everybody,” he said.
“If the weather’s bad, you can kiss the bonus away.”
source: Northern Star story & photo: Kate O’Neill