Raking in the moolah this season

2012-12-07 00:00

DECEMBER holidaymakers who bring a massive cash injection to the South Coast are so vital that many small businesses survive months from those takings alone.

Apart from boosting and sustaining the hospitality industry, South Coast Tourism CEO Michael Bertram said, it is a “watershed” month for many businesses that fill their coffers and then survive off this money for much of the following year.

“Take little craft shops, for example. Locals don’t even know they are there, or don’t have time to browse in them. Holidaymakers give them such a boost that they are able to carry on for months after this … and in some cases this even determines their survival. But everybody, from petrol stations to grocery stores, benefits financially,” said Bertram.

He said that the financial ramifications from December 15, when the bulk of holidaymakers arrive, until January 4, are enormous for the entire South Coast economy — and a snap survey by The Witness bore this out.

Willem Erasmus, principal owner of Acutts Estate Agency in Margate, expressed his enthusiasm for the holiday season.

“We absolutely welcome this time of the year and will definitely get our sales.

“It is a great time to market what we have for sale, and usually holiday-makers are interested in holiday units,” said Erasmus.

For Kevin Rickson, of Victory Motorcycles in Port Shepstone, the year-end holidays give him the equivalent of at least four months’ normal business.

“I love the ‘Vaalies’ and won’t ever complain about the extra traffic in December because of what business I get out of it.

“I start getting orders for motorbikes and scooters before they even get here, to be ready on their arrival, and then sell a good couple of bikes when they are here, including accessories like helmets, jackets and so on. There is also no doubt they have more money to spend than locals,” said Rickson.

Two petrol stations, one in Port Shepstone and the other in Hibberdene, said the volume of petrol they sold went up dramatically, by more than 35%.

They did not want to identify their garages for fear of cash heists.

“Holidaymakers bring in a lot of extra petrol sales right up to January 10,” said one garage owner on the coast.

Shelly Centre manager Riek Lenhoff said trade increases by 300% over the holidays.

“It’s the time of the year when everybody smiles and we are looking forward to a good holiday season,” said Lenhoff.

Southcoast Mall manager Tracy Kohler agreed that the footfall tripled, and that holidaymakers had a “hugely positive impact on all the shops”.

She said if it wasn’t for them, the smaller niche shops would not survive.

“Some of these smaller, boutique, niche kind of shops in the area bank on this huge impact during the holiday season for their long-term survival,” said Kohler.

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