Have you made your Christmas list and checked it twice?
Business leaders have called on the community to tick off presents at small stores this festive season, to ensure a strong benefit to our economy.
Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry chair Steve Horton said the perception of a lack of income diversity had affected profits throughout the year.
"We do struggle because there is a perception you pay additional money and it's not right. Compared to big stores in Sydney, our prices are comparable," Mr Horton said.
"People need to stop listening to other people's perceptions of what we are.
"There are a lot of wealthy retirees but if you do the research into the jobs in this area... usually two people in a household are earning money to make ends meet."
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Creative and Co artistic director Michaela Bolzan said small stores offered a unique experience for shoppers.
"There is no doubt that shopping online is an easy option for time-poor shoppers in the lead-up to Christmas, but what we are offering is a truly unique pre-Christmas experience," she said.
"You will get your shopping done, but at the same time have a fun and enjoyable time.
"Christmas should be a happy and social time and this is the atmosphere we plan to create."
Mr Horton said there were several benefits to Christmas shopping in the Highlands.
"Christmas is traditionally a time when businesses see an increase in profit," he said.
"Shoppers are supporting their friends and family. You don't have to pay to park and you're helping the economy here."
Ecolena Sustainable Fashion owner Elena Privalova said e-commerce had an impact on Highlands retailers "just like retailers everywhere else".
"E-commerce drove down price, but often at the cost of quality; and retailers suffered from lack of foot traffic and the expectation that prices would be as cheap as the cheapest option available on the internet," she said.
"But then people began to realise the truth in the old 'you get what you pay for' - in the clothing sector we've all seen the horror stories of women ordering a dress online and what turns up bears no resemblance to what was in the pictures.
"There's lots of customers who still appreciate being able to browse through a shop and to actually feel the quality of the products, and to try them on to see what works for them."
Layering With Style owner Shelly Burrows shared a similar sentiment.
"Online shopping is honestly killing some unique stores; customers think sitting on their laptop and having stock delivered is convenient, but it is taking a huge toll on small stores," she said.
"If locals want unique stores they need to support us and as shop owners we need to stick to our lane, be confident of what we do and don't try to be like any other store.
"This way we can build a village that's vibrant."
In order to increase profits over the festive season, Bowral small shop owners will open their doors for extended trading hours.
Stores will be open until 7.30pm on Thursday, December 5, 12 and 19.
Shops will offer gift ideas from various stores, free gifts with purchases, gift wrapping as well as Christmas festivities.
Moss Vale Chamber of Commerce was contacted for comment.
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