Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ker-ching becomes ker-plunk


Economies all over the world are doing crazy things, or having crazy things done to them. Debt levels in Europe are sky-high. Unemployment in the USA is rising. Productivity is faltering everywhere. Australia is not immune to the rising tide of disquiet.

This can be seen in my own local 'high street'. I live in Paddington, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, which are considered well-heeled. Our main shopping street is one of those old-fashioned ribbon-developments which seem to stretch on for miles. Populated by small often one-off boutiques, what economists love to call SMEs (small to medium enterprises).


Some shops seem to be prospering, whilst others go to the wall. Look at the number of 'for-sale' and 'for-lease' signs in these last three photographs, all taken during the last six months, indeed the large one taken last week. And this in an economy where our public debt is low, when compared with Greece, the UK, France, and the USA.

Shoppers are spending on essentials, and paying down debt instead of splashing out. What discretionary spending there is, is now occurring at the local mall, which is big and modern and trashy, stocking cheaper items. When we all change our spending pattern at the same time, there is not enough people buying to keep the economic cycle chugging along.


This post is part of the Signs Signs community.

22 comments:

Mo said...

An interesting time for the world that's for sure

Rinkly Rimes said...

And then there are the impending sackings of bank staff. We're going to feel this more and more.

Joan Elizabeth said...

We seem to be talking ourselves into gloom and doom. I noticed down the coast the number of real estate 'for sale' signs and figure people are trying to get out of their weekenders too.

Jim said...

It is a worry even in Australia where we have not really been affected by the troubles overseas.

Julie said...

I agree, Joan, we are talking ourselves into a 'downturn'. Here in Australia the economic dynamic is positive. The statistics are positive. For all the hue'n'cry about the 'nanny state', it is our regulatory controls on banking and finance, our balance between govt and reserve bank (finance, monetary) that is putting us in good stead. And yet, there is induced anxiety and 'woe-isme-ism'.

Julie said...

It should not be a worry here, Jim. As you say, we have not been affected. Not core economic activity. Yes, the dollar is higher. Yes, some industries are hurting. But we pay too much attention to folk like Gerry Harvey, and people with house mortgages.

Carole Meisenhelter said...

great series of photos and your commentary very descriptive of the current economic phase.

Emma Dalloway said...

Interesting observations here. I noticed the same increase in vacancy rates around Willoughby Road, Crows Nest (closer to my home).

Both these areas are what we planners have always aimed to encourage - active street frontages, fine grain, creative, diverse etc etc but something is going wrong.

Large malls not only stock cheaper goods, they also provide better 'public domain' than the real public domain - clean toilets, a reprieve from noisy roads - that sort of thing.

We need another Jane Jacobs to get our community and our decision makers focused on reclaiming street life.

Julie said...

I agree that something is going wrong, Dalloway, and for mine, it comes down to the market-dominance of Westfield, Coles, Woolies and Meriton. These four 'decide' where retail will be located. They have it in their power to decimate entire suburbs, eg Double Bay and Paddington and lower Oxford Street. I can only surmise that what I see happening in my local area is happening all over Sydney. My son lives on Falcon St Crowie and all the shops and small terraces from him up to the top of Crowie are empty and derelict. Chatswood has sucked the life out of that area, just as BJ is sucking the life out of the East.

Soon all we will have to choose from is rows of identical nasty polyester crap. And it will be the shoppers' fault.

I had to look up Jane Jacobs. Someone like her would be crucified in today's political climate. As much as we cry out that we want policy NOT politics, that is a bare-faced lie. The current breed of citizen will not listen for one second to someone who is a Professor of Cultural Geography. She will be branded a mere academic, living in an ivory tower, and sneered at as a latte sipping socialist living off the heard earned taxes of working people.

Here, anyone else want this soap-box ...

AL said...

I know they have to advertise, but those huge signs just add to the feeling of desperation of things. It's a sad thing when these small businesses go broke.

Mark said...

they are sobering shots, I notice the big blue 'Clearance' in the window.
Oxford St has suffered badly since W########d BJ has opened, I'm not much of a shopper but this street needs to get back to basics and not be all expensive clothes etc.

Lesley said...

In some instances, we see good shops being run out of business due to landlords asking impossibly high rents knowing that the big chains like Starbucks and the like are the only ones that can afford to pay. Then, when they don't buy in, the stores sit empty for months.
At least our for lease/sale signs aren't as huge as yours are! They are more discreet and sit in the windows at street level.

Lesley said...

And thanks for joining in!

NixBlog said...

Yes, we are lucky here in Australia compared to many other countries around the world, Julie. However, we too are not immune. It seems things will get worse before they get better.
Greta captures.

RedPat said...

A scary sight indeed! We are fine here in Canada too but we are always hearing from our government that we have to be careful because bad times could cross the border from the U.S. so it keeps everyone on edge.

ewok1993 said...

lovely neighborhood.

we just have to ride out this global rough seas.

Halcyon said...

I like the looks of your high street. Looks much busier than most places in N America.

Lindy MacDuff said...

Despite all the for sale signs, you have lots of architecturally-pleasing buildings and everything looks so neat and tidy.

toby said...

Here in Israel we're also in relatively good shape, but I agree that the disaster all around can feel ominous at times. Here's hoping that your situation stays afloat and healthy!

Breathtaking said...

Austalia's economy seems to be in good shape,however your photos are
a sign, of the times!! Here in Portugal things are dire.The closing of small businesses is evident all over the country, and
appartments are not easily rented.

Chrissy Brand said...

A very interesting post. Fab title too!

Chrissy at Manchester: a photo a day at Mancunian Wave

Inger-M said...

I love the architecture and look of your local shopping streets. I do hope they survive! Great shots!