After a tremendously difficult start to 2020, Ballarat businesses are starting to trend upwards in terms of sales.
The latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) suggest retail trade is on the rise, jumping up by nearly 17 per cent from April to May and while clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing increased by 129.2 per cent.
However, some businesses have said these figures are misleading as many stores have only just reopened their doors.
Creswick Flowers on Albert Street has been open for about a month since closing its doors when COVID-19 restrictions tightened. Owner Simone Broad says while some aspects of trading remain similar to before coronavirus, operating with reduced hours is keeping things tight financially.
"It's been about the same as usual since we re-opened," she said.
"It's been tough and a bit of a worry but we're soldering on, I wouldn't say business is up 100 per cent. We've been operating under reduced hours.
"Things are far from back to normal, but just having the doors open has been great. It's providing some relief."
These sentiments were echoed by Di Harris of Sturt Street clothing store, Sussanah's on Sturt. She said the ABS figures are very misleading and retail businesses still have a long road to recovery.
"Of course those numbers are up, so many of those businesses have only just opened their doors back up," she said.
"Those numbers are very misleading because things are still quite dire for a lot of businesses. We're nowhere near our normal figures and I don't think many businesses like ours could be."
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett said viewing the ABS stats going forward will be more representative on how the industry is progressing.
"There are a whole lot of variables around those numbers," Ms Gillett said.
She added Commerce Ballarat remains concerned with supporting businesses in the long run, many of which have been dissuaded by restrictions tightening following spikes in positive test results across the state.
"We've noticed a really concerning downturn in mood from some local businesses," she continued.
"I think the fact that restrictions haven't eased, in fact they've gone backwards, has knocked the wind out of a lot of businesses."
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