SHOPS in Peel Street have reported a mixed-bag of results from this year’s festival following the divisive decision to reopen an additional block to traffic.
The block between Bourke and Brisbane streets did not play host to any stages or stalls for the first time in many years.
Yum-To-Go bakery owner Kathleen Barden said business was down on previous years.
“But I don’t think that was necessarily because the road wasn’t blocked off,” she said.
“I just think the majority of people have moved down towards the park.”
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However, the shop-owner said it was a positive festival, overall, with a better atmosphere created in the block.
“At least it looked like there was activity, when it was closed off with not much happening, it just looked desolate,” she said.
“So, now, it was more of a time-out area for people who wanted to get away from the hectic scene up the other end.”
Lemon House owner Kath Keating said 2018 brought her shop’s best festival trade in years.
Until three years ago, the shop would close for the January festival, but she said having the street open enticed many locals back to the main drag.
“It was better than last year and better than the year before,” she said.
“It did work well for us.
“Because the cars could only park for an hour, we just had more people pass the shop all day and women would walk past and say ‘that looks nice, I’m just going to race in’, you could hear them say it as they went past.”
Councillor Juanita Wilson originally pushed for the block to stay closed in festival, but now there was no reason to go back, she said.
“Councillors have no right to block innovation and people who want to take responsibility for how the town goes and I was prepared to be surprised,” Cr Wilson said.
Having spoken to retailers and services in the block she said there’s “no obvious reason for it to be reversed”.
“There was a positive vibe there and the turnover of traffic was constant and consistent,” she said.