The following article was written by Jim Gainsford and originally published Wednesday July 1, 2020 by The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader. The following text has been captured using computer software and may not be 100% accurate. You can download a high resolution scan of the original publication HERE.
ST GEORGE Business Chamber president Allan Zreik said that in 32 years of trading in Hurstville he ca¬ remember a worse time. Mr Zreik's business Zed n Zed Jewellers in Westfield Hurstville has been hit particularly hard by the impact of COVID-19 social restrictions. "I think I am down close to 90 per cent," he said. "Jewellery is the last thing people want to buy in a situation like this. There's been no weddings, christenings or birthday parties. "We have never experienced anything like we have during the Coronavirus pandemic. "It's been hard in the past but not as bad as it is now. "It has been so quiet in the business centre of Hurstville and on Forest Road nothing was happening. "The majority of small business people say business is down 80 to 85 per cent. If it wasn't for JobKeeper a lot of people would have lost their job. "The decision by Qantas to lay-off 6,000 staff will have an effect on local retail .. A few of our customers are from Qantas land they haven't been in since the start of COVID." Mr Zreik said the chamber is meeting with Georges River Council soon to work more strategies to see what can be done to help small businesses. Last year the chamber started the Buy Local Campaign to encourage business and consumers to support locally-owned businesses. The campaign covered a large area from Cooks River to Georges River representing almost 14,000 businesses in the Bayside Council Local Government Area as well as 16,000 businesses in the Georges River Local Government, representing over five per cent of the NSW Gross Domestic Product. Mr Zreik said business recovery will hinge on buying local. "Every dollar that leaves Georges River and Bayside is largely lost to our community, while every dollar spent within our boundaries gets spent over and over again," he said. "The Buy Local campaign aims to stimulate local job creation, boost local economy and inject money directly into our communities. Our local shopping precincts · are community hubs, employment hubs and meeting places, each playing a critical role in building thriving communities where people live, work and enjoy their local area.' For the moment business is still quiet but there are signs that the situation is getting a little bit better. "We had a young couple come into the shop this week who are thinking of getting married next year, so they are starting to shop around," Mr Zreik said. "Let's hope that young people will starting shopping in the local retail outlets. If we can get through to Christmas we may be okay."