Local business: Michelle and Brad Stephen are closing their doors after 14 years in business following their relocation to Hopetoun. Mrs Stephen expressed her concerns for the future of Esperance businesses.Esperance store owner Michelle Stephen has called for a tax on online shopping and raised concerns for the future of small business in the Esperance region.
After owning and operating her business, Chelle’s Styles on James Street in Esperance for more than 14 years Mrs Stephen is closing her doors.
Mrs Stephen said the closure was primarily due to her relocation to Hopetoun 18 months ago for her husband Brad’s work.
She said despite relocating a decline in sales and the pressure to stay competitive against online wholesalers was a concern.
She attributed declining sales to a rise in online shopping behaviour over the last three years and proposedan online tax to ease the pressure.
“I think sales started to go down in the last three years,” she said.“I honestly think what they need to do is bring in an online tax in.
“If you’re going to shop online you should have to pay some sort of tax and if you shop outside of Australia you should have to pay a massively high tax because you’re taking away jobs.”
In a study undertaken by Australia Post that highlighted online shopping trend statistics across Australia; regional online shopping grew by more than eight per cent last year.
The study found health and beauty had been the fastest-moving online shopping category in the past 12 months, growing by more than 50pc, with West Australia’s purchases up 40.3% year-on-year.
The study also found proximity to shops was a major driving factor for online shopping behaviour stating regional areas lacking in shopping variety were generally the biggest buyers of online goods compared to people in metropolitan areas.
Younger Australians were identified as themost frequent online shoppers and locations with younger populations had ahigher percentage of purchases.
She pushed for people to shop locally and to support small business in the region.
“It just makes sense to shop local and I’ll always be an advocate for that because even though my business is closing down I still want this town to survive,” she said.
“I feel for so many of the shops that have closed down already,” she said.
She said the store’s closure would impact her two part time employees who had been with the business for a long time.
“I’ve been in Hopetoun for 18 months and I should have really shut it before I left but I really didn’t want to put them out of a job,” she said.
Mrs Stephen said she would continue to provide the Esperance community with a body piercing service but at a different location.
She said she had no ambition to start a clothing store in Hopetoun.
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