ACT News


Festive fishmongers cast off retail gloom

Prawns, lobsters, scallops and snapper have been walking out the door at Canberra seafood outlets but the same can't be said for the rest of the retail sector.

The lack of consumer confidence that has dogged Canberra businesses for much of the year due to uncertainty over the future of the government had not dissipated in the immediate run-up to Christmas, ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Christopher Peters says.

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He is hoping for an early election in 2013 that will determine, one way or another, what the 45 per cent of the ACT workforce employed in the public service can expect.

There was no doom and gloom at Ocean Fresh Seafoods in Fyshwick on Sunday however. Manager Chris Russell told Fairfax that Canberrans love their seafood and ensure they buy the best.


Monday is shaping up to be the busiest day of the year and one of the busiest days the 20-year-old business has ever seen.

''We have been flat-out for days. We will open at 5am and just keep selling until we are sold out,'' he said. ''If last year is anything to go by then that should be around 3pm.''

The store, which normally runs with four staff, had 18 team members on deck on Sunday. Twenty-two are coming in to cope with the Monday rush.

''It is an exciting, hectic and wonderful time of year. If you are in this business you have to be passionate about seafood and, in this country, there is no bigger seafood day than Christmas.''

Mr Peters, who has led the chamber since 1997, said the seafood sector was one of the exceptions to a more general retail malaise.

He said some ACT retail sectors have benefited from the rush to austerity with strong interest in camping equipment and kitchen wares. ''There has been a resurgence in kitchen goods with people opting for home entertaining over going out to a restaurant.''

The same logic applies to the boom in camping equipment sales.

''Families that have stayed in paid accommodation either down the coast or elsewhere in previous years are now looking for more economic alternatives.''

Campers could be in luck with a reasonably promising forecast for both Canberra and the coast over much of the week.

Monday is the most problematic day with a maximum of 35 degrees and a 90 per cent chance of rain with up to 20mm expected.

Christmas Day will be much more clement with a maximum of 24 degrees forecast and an 80 per cent chance of light showers of up to 5 millimetres.

Conditions on the coast will be even better with a maximum of 22 degrees forecast for Batemans Bay and only a 30 per cent chance of light showers.