High rents and slow trade are forcing many Byron Bay CBD businesses to close their doors. Several businesses have already been lost and others are preparing to shut up shop.
HUGE commercial rents in the Byron Bay CBD mean some businesses must now earn at least $1 million a year just to survive, according to Byron Bay’s Chamber of Commerce, Byron United.
President Sevegne Newton said it was a near-impossible task, especially in the current retail climate, and the casualties were starting to mount.
Two main street businesses have closed in recent weeks, five more are closing soon, and the figure could be as high as 25 by the end of the financial year, she said.
Ms Newton said the space occupied by former Lawson St clothing store Temple Door was now up for lease for $90,000 per annum.
“With the 5% yearly rental increases that most landlords are asking, that would lift the rent to $120,000 by the end of its lease,” she said.
“That business would need to be turning over a million dollars a year with at least a 10 % increase every year to make it a going concern. I don’t know a business in town that’s going to make $1 million.”
Getting out of leases early also was also allegedly costing some business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in “key money,” according to Ms Newton.
Key money involves the illegal practice of lessees paying landlords a big sum of cash on top of their lease fee to secure a prime CBD location, which they can recover when the lease is later sold.
However, in the current climate, those leaving leases are unable to recover their costs.
“People aren’t paying key money any more,” she said.
Owner of the recently-closed All Music and Vision Sore, Clint Elder, agreed Byron rents were “out of step with commercial reality”, but blamed the council for the loss of his business.
“We’ve never had a problem with rents because of the people,” he said.
“It used to be a very lucrative place – a lot of people came.
“My theory is Byron Shire Council is not encouraging people to come past doors any more.
“It’s very hard to think anything else when they’ve driven all the fun and festivals out of town.”
Ms Newton also took a swipe at the council, in particular its proposal to introduce paid parking.
“The bottom line is they don’t want tourists in town,” she said.
“If you want to kill Byron Bay, this is how you do it.”
SQUEEZED OUT OF BYRON BAY CBD:
Blue Glue Swimwear, Jonson St
Rocks Jewellers, Lawson St
Kushi Lifestyle, Jonson St
Temple Door, Lawson St
All Music and Vision, Jonson St
Cheekies Designs, Marvel St
My Toy Shop, Fletcher St
source: Northern Star story & photo: Kate O’Neill
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