CHRISTMAS shopping means busy traffic, a struggle to find a car park and a much-needed boost for struggling businesses - but not this year.
Dubbo business owners have expressed concern at the "unusual" quietness of consumer spending this festive season.
The Daily Liberal spoke to four businesses in Macquarie Street and hit the streets asking residents about their spending habits.
Tender Plus Butchery owner Barbara Przerada said the massive spike in electricity prices was to blame for the downturn.
"Everything is going up and it makes it harder for people to make ends meet," she said.
This left residents with little money to spend at stores.
With higher living costs people were always on the lookout for bargains to save their money.
Big supermarkets were "fighting each other" and "cut-throating" small independent stores and squeezing their profits, she said.
"We can't afford to buy products that cheap let alone match the price," she said.
Heels n Keys owner Andrew Taylor said it was "quite unusual" at this time of the year for business to be very quiet.
"Last year we were flat-out," he said.
"We keep telling ourselves, 'Christmas is here and it'll get busier,' but it doesn't seem to happen."
He believed the spike in electricity forced people to cut corners as much as possible and to hold on to their cash.
Australian Red Cross manager Rebecca Dunkin said the Christmas season should bring more people to the shops but this was not happening.
"With the high spike in electricity bills and online shopping, retail really is getting a big flogging," she said.
Fashion Fair assistant manager Jessica Shipp said the store was not receiving its much-needed retail boost this shopping season.
"It is very quiet at the moment," she said.
"There are not many people who are out shopping because people don't have enough money."
Pensioner Elaine McKee said she was not spending as much this Christmas due to the big jump in her electricity bill, council rates and house insurance.
"It's all too expensive," she said.
"Our pension is steady but the expenses are increasing. It is hard to live on the pension."
Yvonne Evans admitted she was battling to make ends meet as the cost of living became increasingly difficult.
"The pension needs a rise," she said.
Judy Smith said her husband was the only breadwinner and it became harder to live on the one income.
"What pushed me over the edge was the spike in electricity and you can't escape it because it is an essential in life," she said.
Mrs Smith said the dollar was not going as far as it used to and she was forced to cut her spending this Christmas.
After Nicky Wise paid all her bills, there was not enough money left to spend on Christmas gifts.
"I believe online stores are causing a headache for retailers because they can afford to be cheaper," she said.