Businesses have seen revenue drop up to 15 per cent in the two months since the Berry Bypass opened, according to the local chamber of commerce.
The two service stations and the IGA have reported a significant drop in earnings, as traffic on the old highway through the town has decreased by about 80 per cent.
Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Vice President Derek Jorgensen said the lack of passing traffic has resulted in less incidental tourism, which has had a negative effect on some stores.
“We’ve seen a significant reduction in travelling tourists, for example those who live north of Berry but work in places like Nowra and Bomaderry. Where truck drivers used to stop for petrol and food, that’s where we’re seeing the biggest loss,” Mr Jorgensen said.
“A number of businesses that had tailored themselves to that market are experiencing that loss of Monday to Friday business,” he said.
However, Mr Jorgensen said Berry’s unique environment has provided the community with steady business on weekends, despite the town now being a one kilometre detour from the highway.
“We’re close to the beach but still considered a country town, and that in itself attracts its own kind of person,” he said.
Specialty stores and restaurants have reported stable income since the road re-alignment.
Furniture warehouse Haven and Space manager Mary Gauci said customers are now more inclined to shop at her store because of the lack of congestion.
“Berry is enough of a location that people want to stop here. Our customers say that it’s not out of their way to get here, and in fact it’s easier because they can just pull off to the side of the road to park,” she said.
The Berry Chamber of Commerce and Tourism is looking to expand its tourism market beyond the shopping scene by building more than 200km of cycling and walking tracks between Gerringong and Bomaderry.
“We’re really encouraging people not to use their cars in Berry, by giving people the opportunity to cycle and walk. We want to provide a facility that will not only benefit the locals, but attract people from out-of-town to still visit Berry,” Mr Jorgensen said.
The Chamber hopes the new cycling tracks will encourage more people to visit the area on weekends, which could then promote the use of accommodation in Berry and fill the quiet times on Sunday afternoons.
The bike trail is still in the planning stage.