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Empty shops along the main streets of towns around New Zealand reflect the Government’s lack of support for small business, National’s Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“I acknowledge the concerns of many small communities across the country at the large and growing number of boarded-up premises. Our towns should be positive and vibrant places and the closures show the pressure small operators are under.

“Just this week retailers in Oamaru spoke out about the array of empty shops which line their main street – which has now reached 14.

“Sadly, their concerns are being reflected across the country. Times are tough for small businesses, with online shopping and the presence of major chain stores having an impact, but the Government must also take some responsibility here.

“Confidence among small businesses operators is consistently low. Many tell me they feel uncertain about the future, have concerns that the economy will deteriorate and are in no mood to invest or grow their enterprises.

“Skilled staff are increasingly hard to find, the Government’s industrial relations reforms are making people nervous and costs keep increasing, including with the minimum wage set to rise on April 1.

“No one wants to see empty shops in their town – it does little to enhance the look of the area and sends a negative message to visitors and locals alike.

“But nothing will improve until this Government changes its economic policies and does more to support small business and regions across the New Zealand. Instead, we’re seeing increasing signs that the economy is losing momentum and the jobless rate is rising.

“National favours sensible economic policies that help businesses to grow, create more jobs and help lift all our communities.”

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