We love our local shopping strips.
They are the social and economic hearts of our communities and a huge part of what makes them such great places to live.
But local traders and their employees have been hit hard by the COVID-19 economic downturn. If shops are vacant and people are out of work, it hurts the whole community.
We must provide a lifeline to our vibrant local shopping strips to support small businesses and create jobs for people in retail, hospitality, the service sector and the arts.
The Victorian Greens are calling for:
Support for artist studios and pop-up shops in vacant premises
Supporting artist studios and pop-up shops to occupy vacant premises will activate empty shop fronts, making it easier for people starting up a business and helping them to gain long-term leases.
Support would include seed funding, sourcing a vacant property start up funding, negotiating rent, administrative and marketing.
Our high streets to be great public spaces
Upgrading streetscapes with improved footpaths, new street furniture and tree coverage will bring people to our shopping strip and increase trade.
Pop-up outdoor dining areas will allow people to safely eat out again whilst Covid-19 restrictions are in place, bringing people back to our shopping strips after lockdown.
Lower rents, lower bills and decrease vacancy rates
Empty shops affect the whole street. Too many landlords are asking for too much in rent, and they are often making the decision to leave their property vacant rather than offering it at a lower rent.
A vacancy tax on landlords unreasonably leaving their shops vacant for too long will decrease vacancy rates and help lower rents. Funds raised would be re-invested into revitalising local shopping precincts. Offering Solar Savers programs to local businesses would help lower bills and carbon emissions.
Funding for more events and festivals
Annual street festivals and regular events can generate significant income for traders, and can encourage people back to our shopping strips as restrictions ease.
Support for local traders and workers through COVID-19
If traders go out of business now it will make the future economic recovery even harder. By pushing to extend JobKeeper, expanding it to include more casual workers and increasing business support funding will help traders survive the pandemic. Assisting traders to effectively pivot online and innovate will help their bricks-and-mortar stores stay open.
A Shopping Strips Revitalisation Unit embedded within Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions would work with local and state governments to deliver the plan.