RUFFELL Family Jewellers is closing after 27 years, with owners blaming a lack of shoppers in the Hargreaves Mall and a rise in online purchases for the shop’s downfall.
Director Martin Ruffell said retailers in the mall were struggling as shoppers headed to Bendigo Marketplace.
“You’ve got to consider that the mall was closed for three years during construction,” he said.
“The focus has shifted to the marketplace.
“They’ve got free parking, security staff; people know the shopping hours and know the shops will be open.”
Mr Ruffell, who runs the store with wife and City of Greater Bendigo councillor Lisa and their son David, said he knew of three or four retailers looking to leave the area.
“There are a few who are considering that this Christmas might be their last hurrah,” he said. “It’s like the shifting of the deckchairs on the Titanic.”
Mr Ruffell said it was a difficult time in the retail sector, which he said was undergoing a “revolution”.
“It’s the high Australian dollar, tough economic times, internet sales, high overheads and increased insurance premiums,” he said.
“A lot of brands are opening their own stores, cutting out the retailers.
“But the internet is probably the primary thing to blame.”
Mr Ruffell said holding $500,000 worth of stock was also expensive.
The store began a closing-down sale yesterday, and Christmas Eve is to be its last day of trading.
Mr Ruffell said the family hoped to open a non-retail store in another location, focusing on custom-made jewellery and repairs.