Monsieur Pierre's Simon Fenwick is one Kyneton trader to open his doors over the December holiday period.

Holiday surcharges could save Kyneton traders from a repeat of last year’s empty stores during the Christmas period, Business Kyneton says.

The traders group has proposed a town-wide 15 per cent surcharge to remove the obstacle of increased holiday wages that saw many traders stay shut last year.

Business Kyneton president Kate Fairley told the Express customers were prepared to shop and dine during last year’s holidays but had limited options.

“Last year there was widespread criticism from the general public about the number of shops that were closed. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for those that were open because of the long wait times,” she said.

“We’re trying to get ahead of that this year and find out what the gaps are. A surcharge is a potential solution to some of the barriers to opening at this time such as increased staff wages.

“So far, there has been support for the idea. Many think it could help them and others to reopen but we are still gathering information.”

Other barriers for traders had also been the lack of staff and desire to spend the holiday period with friends and family.

“We’re encouraging people to really consider opening this year – even if they can’t for the entire time, to think about one special event,” Ms Fairley said.

“If we don’t get enough people to open up, we may need to consider other options, like food and coffee vans, to ensure people can enjoy their time here and to support those who are trading.”

At the time of speaking to the Express, 61 per cent of Kyneton traders had suggested to Business Kyneton they would open during the holiday period. About 35 per cent indicated they were unsure.

Kyneton cafe Monsieur Pierre was one of those to continue trade over last year’s holiday period.

Monsieur Pierre’s Kate Ferguson said closures of other hospitality venues meant Monsieur Pierre was inundated with customers.

“Because so many were shut people were coming to us and there were much longer wait times than usual,” she said.

“Kyneton is experiencing much more tourist trade than it ever has. The holiday period has become such a busy time and we’ve got to think about how all traders and the town can benefit from this.”

Ms Ferguson said Business Kyneton had opened conversation among traders about the hurdles to opening and tried to workshop ideas.

“A surcharge is not something we would instigate or do on our own but if it means that more businesses could open, that are historically shut at that time, we support that,” Ms Ferguson said.

“Given the horror year that hospitality has had throughout the pandemic, we encourage more people to consider opening. There is going to be a mass exodus from Melbourne when the lockdowns lift and we should be prepared for that.”

The holiday surcharge is an idea that Business Kyneton continues to explore and gain data on. The group will support businesses that would like to implement the surcharge by way of signage and information.