While the Coast bunkers down in the face of COVID-19, the retailers at one local shopping centre are doing all they can to keep their doors open and people in jobs.
Nestled right in the heart of Wyong’s CBD, Village Central Wyong is usually a lively, bustling hub of commerce for the community.
Anchored by supermarket giant Coles and The Reject Shop, the centre’s 35 other specialist stores are owned and operated by a myriad of locals who have built a loyal customer base over the years.
While a handful of them have had to close in accordance with new containment laws, the majority of them are still open, working hard to protect their livelihoods and doing their bit to keep Wyong’s economy afloat.
Most have been hit hard by the drop in trade, but others have risen to the occasion, adopting new practices in accordance with this strange new world.
Queue the takeaway order.
Several businesses have migrated completely to takeaway or home delivery in compliance with new restrictions on who can trade and how, and according to Village Centre spokesperson, Michael Gibbs, for the most part, takeaway is taking off.
“We have definitely noticed an increase in the number of shoppers buying local and business is honestly better than we expected, given the current situation,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs credits the positive response from the Wyong community to the response to COVID-19.
“For a lot of people, going to a big shopping centre is now unthinkable, so we’re really seeing a lot of locals coming into the centre.
“They might be coming in to do their grocery shop at Coles, but then realise there’s a lot of businesses still open and working really hard to ensure that they’re meeting all these new requirements,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs noted that eateries in particular were giving it a red hot go, incorporating an array of best practice social distancing measures into their operations.
“The majority of them have adopted zero contact takeaway, while others have turned to home delivery, and this is on top of the Centre’s strict hygiene requirements, so customers should feel safe dropping in to pick up an order or receiving an order at their doorstep,” Gibbs said.
With the Federal Government forecasting that the country will be feeling the effects of COVID-19 for at least the next six months, Gibbs praised centre retailers for being innovative in the face of adversity and had this message for the Wyong community: “For those of you that can and who feel safe doing so, please consider shopping local.
“Please support local businesses keeping jobs in your community.
“Yes, there is a pandemic and yes people need to be more cautious of their health, but at the end of the day, not that much has changed at Village Central.
“It’s still the same great local people, delivering great products and services, many are just now takeaway only,” Gibbs said.
Interview, Mar 31
Michael Gibbs, Village Central Wyong
Reporter: Dilon Luke