John Gibbeson, Castlemaine
Castlemaine desperately needs another supermarket to provide
competition to the present duopoly and arrest the ongoing drain of local expenditure
to shopping centres in Bendigo, Maryborough and Kyneton.
The reality is that to be prosperous, now and in the long term, every town and city must have a competitive and vibrant retail and service sector to attract customers and ensure ongoing patronage.
Supermarkets are one of the key anchors that sit at the top of the retail pyramid supporting the other specialty
retailers. If the retail sector is not competitive and vibrant, customers will go elsewhere which is exactly what is
happening in Castlemaine.
A 2012 Castlemaine Commercial Centre study estimated that approximately 50% of the town’s
retail expenditure was being spent elsewhere which adversely affects all of our retailers from shoe shops to petrol stations.
The situation has not changed; my observation is that the current duopoly experiences an abnormal preponderance of “ten items of less” type sales while the big purchases continue to be made out of town particularly by young families.
The irony is that it is entirely likely that the additional large supermarket plan and greater
competition will actually benefit the current incumbents as well as the town through
greater overall patronage.
I strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of Castlemaine residents support the new supermarket proposal and are frustrated that it has taken so long to get to this stage.
I am aware that there is a small highly organised vocal minority comprising vested interests and others who are doggedly resistant to any form of change who continue to attempt to scuttle the project. Their objections are based on the proposed location, traffic congestion, proximity to a school and extra heavy vehicle
traffic which are either unsubstantiated nonsense or relatively minor issues that have been grossly exaggerated and can be adequately addressed with good planning. None of these objections are
sufficient, individually or collectively as grounds for preventing the supermarket project proceeding.
The new supermarket will not sacrifice any of our beautiful buildings or change the Castlemaine’s rich heritage. It will create new jobs during construction and provide ongoing employment opportunities when operational particularly for our young people. In short, Castlemaine has everything to gain and nothing to lose from having a new extra supermarket. Let’s get on with it!