I spent yesterday wandering around in town, looking in all the gorgeous gift shops and bookstores, and every retailer I spoke to told me the same things.
"Business is bad this year. Sales are way down and shoplifting is way up."
I live in (arguably) the most prosperous state in the country, in one of the most popular and fast-growing towns. This is where people invested during the first mining boom. There are new housing developments everywhere. And yet, there's not a lot of money around.
I know it's not just in WA. Earlier this year, everywhere we went in Queensland, we heard the same things -- no money, no work. Times are hard.
And these two states are the wealthy ones!
I'm not going to get all political on you. I'm sure there are a lot of complicated reasons for this. What I want to talk about is the shoplifting.
One lady told me they had 16 garments go missing off a rack last week. She'd lost almost all the wallets she had had on display. She's resorted to chaining her handbags together, and putting everything small into display cases. She hates the way her shop looks now.
She's not wealthy. Most small business owners aren't. She has to absorb those losses herself. She also has to view every customer as a potential shoplifter now, and she hates that. The one thing that's been keeping her going in her business is that she loved her shop. Now she doesn't.
Isn't that sad?
Thieves steal much more than they realise.