Is short-term gain worth long-term pain?

THERE'S a scene in Monty Python And The Holy Grail that shows a dead collector walking through the filthy streets of 10th Century Britain crying: "Bring out your dead."

John Cleese walks out to meet the dead collector with an elderly man slung over his shoulder and is about to throw the body on the cart when the old man calls out: "I'm not dead."

Regional retail outlets might well be that old man.

For years there have been obituaries written mourning the death of the traditional shopping strip and yet local small businesses still survive in the main streets and shopping centres of country towns like Cowra.

That's not to say it's an easy existence for our retailers, with fierce competition from online retailers and the ongoing impacts of drought creating challenges that must keep many shop owners laying awake at night.

More and more shoppers are buying their clothes, shoes, groceries and even motor vehicles from the comfort of their lounge rooms and at times that suit them rather than the store owner, but they have not managed to kill off local shops just yet.

In fact, if there has been a silver lining for local shops from the internet revolution it has been the need to focus on their own points of difference to determine just what it is they do better than everyone else and how they can do it even better.

For most, the answer is in the superior customer service afforded by a face-to-face relationship with the retailer.

Most shoppers are still drawn to the lure of well-trained staff who know the products they are selling and who are ready to provide prompt, polite and professional service.

There is a lot more comfort in knowing you can return to the retailer the next day if you have a problem.

And the added bonus of knowing that you're credit card is not being compromised.

And then there's the knowledge that supporting local retailers is also a way of supporting the local community.

Many stores in Cowra and the wider are have been in business for generations, employing local people and giving back to local organisations.

Our town can't do without their support and those businesses can't do without the support of the residents.

Shopping online might save you a few dollars in the short term, but what could be the long-term cost to Cowra?