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City visitors hungry for vouchers as traders face uncertain future

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More than 30,000 people and almost 120 businesses have signed up for a voucher scheme aimed at boosting the Adelaide CBD economy as city traders air concerns about their ongoing viability.

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The Adelaide Economic Development Agency (AEDA) launched its $30 lunch and experience voucher program on Monday, already attracting about 32,000 registrations from potential customers and a further 119 businesses.

As part of the new initiative, South Australians can register their interest for the chance to win one of 5000 CBD and North Adelaide restaurant, café, tour and attraction vouchers.

Adelaide City Councillor Mary Couros said consumer responses had been overwhelmingly positive but encouraged more businesses to sign up.

“We’ve got almost 4000 small businesses in the city of Adelaide and they’re a big part of our rate-paying community … it would be good for people to come to those businesses and see what they have on offer,” she said.

“As a small business owner myself, you do get bogged down with the daily running of it that you’re not aware of the opportunities that are out there to support you.”

Run by the recently established AEDA, the program aims to stimulate economic spending in the city, with vouchers to be used between March 1 and April 30.

Winners will be notified of their success on February 26 via email.

The city council this week tabled the results of its Business and Resident Survey, which highlighted concern among CBD traders over the future of their businesses.

Data captured from 166 city and North Adelaide businesses between October 2 and November 2 last year showed only 48 per cent of those surveyed felt confident about the next 12 months.

A further 15 per cent were neither worried nor confident about their future, and 37 per cent of respondents said they were worried.

Retail and hospitality businesses were two groups more likely to be worried about their future than not, the report tabled at Tuesday night’s council meeting stated.

The survey was conducted to help the council understand the impact of the pandemic on business sales and confidence, and to find out what support businesses needed from the council to aid their recovery. The findings are expected to influence the City of Adelaide’s Business Plan and Budget for 2021-2022.

City councillor and owner of Adelaide Central Market stall Barossa Fine Foods Franz Knoll blamed the pandemic for falling levels of optimism among business owners. He said while some industries came out punching from the pandemic, others did not.

“The CBD has a whole variety of businesses and it’s skewed a lot towards entertainment – so eating and all those other things – as well as businesses that service [office] workers,” Knoll said.

“Suburban retail has gotten strength, whereas the city retail has suffered. We now have to enable and encourage people back into town so we get that critical mass.”

Venue director of North Terrace live music venue and nightclub Fat Controller, Donoso, said he believed over the next 12 months his business “will keep trading” but he was “not optimistic” capacity restrictions would lift. These restrictions affect his business’ income and “ability to grow”.

“JobKeeper is also ending in a month, which makes things shaky,” Donoso said.

East End French brasserie Hey Jupiter owner Christophe Zauner said he was optimistic about the next 12 months.

“You have to make it work,” he said.

Councillor Anne Moran took a different view, telling InDaily she needed to understand the base-level anxiety businesses experienced before passing comment on the pandemic-influenced data, but said “maybe some businesses should go to the wall”.

“Businesses were fairly worried anyway before the pandemic,” she said.

“There has been a shift in business trends … millennials prefer the small bars than drinking in hotels.

“I don’t agree with the $30 voucher scheme, and it’s a waste of public money.”

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