A KINGTON retailer fears the federal government’s controversial cost-cutting budget, the first by the Abbott government, has caused consumers to keep their hands in their pockets and stop spending money, but believes some shoppers may be jumping at financial shadows.
Notions Unlimited Bookshop owner Chuck McKenzie said small businesses had been doing it tough before last month’s budget, and the devil for retailers had been in the reported detail of proposed income cuts to the average household, including $3 billion in family tax benefits budget cuts.
“Without wishing to bring politics into it, sales have sharped dropped since the announcement of the federal budget,” Mr McKenzie said.
“Speaking to customers, there’s been massive concern about how the budget will affect their finances.”
A series of reports from financial institutions, including ANZ Bank and NAB, have indicated consumer confidence has fallen dramatically since the budget was unveiled.
An ANZ-Roy Morgan Research Consumer Confidence Report released this week stated consumer confidence surveyed had risen 2.9 per cent in the week to 1 June, but confidence was still 12 per cent lower than six weeks ago, when “negative newsflow related to the Commonwealth Budget began”.
Other Kingston area shop owners contacted by The News declined to comment, reluctant to directly link any drop-off in custom to the Abbott government’s budget.
Mr McKenzie believed a reluctance to speak publicly about the problem was “understandable since people think it may make things worse”.
He said there had always been “down times” immediately before and after government budget announcements but he had noticed the downswing in trade had continued longer after this year’s federal budget.
“People seem more frightened this time around and they’re worrying about budget measures that haven’t even come into effect yet,” he said.
“They think it’s all done and dusted – it’s still all be passed by the Senate and there’s no guarantee everything will get through.”
Mr McKenzie said some customers he had spoken to believed the $7 GP co-payment, for example, was already in force when this was not the case.
Notions Unlimited is an independent bookshop specialising in science fiction, fantasy and horror titles and pop culture merchandise.
Mr McKenzie’s hoped shoppers would heed the advice emblazoned on the front cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: ‘Don’t Panic’.
“By speaking out about this, I hope people realise they have to keep supporting local businesses, otherwise they may vanish.”