Harris Scarfe has closed stores at Dubbo and 20 other locations and multiple chains across Australia have collapsed in recent weeks, but an economist in western NSW would not yet dub it a "retail apocalypse".
Accessories brand Colette by Colette was the latest to go into voluntary administration, with the spate of collapses giving rise to dire predictions by analysts in media reports.
But Charles Sturt University economist Professor John Hicks contested it was too early to call it a "retail apocalypse".
"No, I don't think it's that clear at this stage, although I suppose the evidence is leaning more towards there being issues in the industry than there not being issues within the industry," he said.
The Bathurst-based academic identified two main causes of the tight conditions.
"I think the main thing at the moment is the fact that consumption is not growing at the rate the government would like to see it grow, and that means money is not being put into the retail sector by those people who normally go out there and buy," he said.
"They're using it to pay off the loans they have, often on housing and that sort of thing, which is quite large, so they're conserving their expenditure.
"The second biggest problem would be the drought, which has resulted in the fact that people within regional areas don't have the money to spend."
The economist says a turnaround "will come, with time".
Once [consumers] have paid down their mortgages they will start spending on consumption items again, but it could be a little way off.Professor of Economics John Hicks
"Once [consumers] have paid down their mortgages they will start spending on consumption items again, but it could be a little way off," Professor Hicks said.
Some help could be on the horizon.
"The money that will come into regional areas in terms of drought relief and bushfire relief may also help the retail sector," Professor Hicks said.
"The Reserve Bank seems to feel both those factors are not major issues, I think in our economies, in our small regional economies, they are actually very important."
Harris Scarfe's store at Dubbo closed a week ago, with the receivers' decision coming in early January. By Thursday, for lease signs had appeared in the premises' window.
The shopfront is about 1529 square metres in size, and is described as "arguably the premier position in Dubbo's prime retail strip", on the website of listing agent Andrew McDonald Commercial Real Estate.