Ask business owners in the Wollongong CBD about the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than one say they believe it could be the last straw for some retailers.
One business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "If there's a second wave, I think a lot of people will go bankrupt."
Barry Markwick, owner of Total Expressions in the mall, agreed: "It depends, (but if) you're looking at what's happening in Victoria, if that gets up here... You've got the end of September when the COVID support scheme is supposed to finish, although we don't know that it is".
"But if that does, there's going to be a lot of (business) casualties."
Nathan Dobbs, co-owner of Glass Alley cafe in Wollongong Central, is also concerned about the lingering affects of forced shutdowns and restrictions on businesses due to the COVID threat.
"What I've noticed is if a business was kind of just hanging in there this whole time, I think this was definitely the big push, the straw that broke the camel's back for a lot of businesses," he said.
"I think it was more a demonstration of the health of the CBD in general that it pushed a lot of businesses over the edge."
The closed shopfronts, not to mention the already vacant ones littered around the CBD - some only recently, others for a year or more - emphasize his point.
Indeed, some CBD businesses which were already struggling prior to COVID-19 may well have had their issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
Jasmin North, centre manager at GPT Group's Wollongong Central said Bardot and Tigerlily are both national retailers who are no longer at Wollongong and entered into administration prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic respectively.
Mr Markwick's Total Expressions store doesn't fall under the GPT banner. He's owned the business for 35 years - it's been in its current location for 27 - and it remained open throughout the pandemic.
"Initially we were 76 per cent down (in trade), and we're currently travelling about 50 per cent down on what we were prior to February.
"Since Mother's Day things have picked up a little, but we're still down on what we were this time last year.
"The landlords are in a difficult spot as well - they've got commitments and their loans, even though they've got the deferment from banks."
Mr Markwick listed the business for sale about 18 month ago, and withdrew it just after the pandemic hit.
"I've had the business up for sale, (but) that's not going to happen now, so that's something I never anticipated. I don't think anyone's going to buy it in this environment."
Mr Dobbs said their cafe had remained open, although admitted it got "pretty quiet there for a while".
Mr Dobbs believed foot traffic and activity in the CBD was improving, if still inconsistent, but cited their strong core customer base.
"I think people needed their retail therapy after three months of being cooped up," he said. "Some days you're very quiet, some days there are big rushes, and sometimes you can't always pick which direction it's going to go."
Mr Dobbs said they were uncertain about how much rent relief their business would receive later in the year, as they had only negotiated the April/May/June period.
"But we're really not sure what the outcome is going to be, because a lot of businesses are still in negotiation about their rent," he said.
"I do believe CBD rents are quite high in general."
Mrs North said Wollongong Central continues to "work closely with all of our retailers to deliver an environment to assist them through and beyond this unprecedented period".
She said GPT is providing cashflow relief to qualifying small and medium enterprises proportionate to their reduction in revenue for the COVID-19 period, in line with the Code of Conduct introduced by the federal government.
"The cashflow relief is provided via a combination of rental waiver and deferment unless otherwise mutually agreed.
"We are engaging with our tenants in a proactive and considered way so that we, and our tenants, emerge from the pandemic in a position to grow our respective businesses."
Meanwhile, businesses and other parties believe there are measures that can be taken to boost the CBD.
Alexander's Bakery Southside's Kav Arya said they stayed open since the pandemic hit.
Although believing there was now a little more foot traffic in the CBD compared to the onset of coronavirus, he said business post-COVID was still "very slow".
Mr Arya said an initiative that could help would be having one-way traffic going through the mall's main strip, with parking on each side.
He cited Church Street in Parramatta as an example that demonstrated the potential of such an idea.
"It would make a big difference to the way that people would be travelling through," he said.
"Having that one-way traffic there has brought so much business to those guys."
Mr Dobbs also said re-introducing some free parking measures within the CBD would be beneficial to boosting business activity.
Mrs North said during COVID-19, with subdued foot traffic in the centre and wider CBD, Wollongong Central temporarily allowed free parking to assist with shopper safety and convenience.
"With the majority of stores having since re-opened and foot traffic at approximately 85 per cent of the corresponding period, paid parking has returned," she said.
Adam Zarth, executive director of the Illawarra Business Chamber said it had been a "very difficult time for businesses across the Wollongong CBD".
"What's been really heartening of late has been seeing how many of these businesses have started to come back to life," he said.
"I'm hearing some really good reports from cafes that had gone into a major downturn, and are now coming back out of it because they're just seeing more foot traffic in the CBD.
"While it's not back to usual levels, because obviously larger companies have more rigorous policies in place about who can come back to the office and when, we're looking forward that, short of any Victorian-style backwards step, we can see that continue to grow and our city will return to life."
Mr Zarth said it was too early to assess whether businesses which had been on the brink beforehand would survive the flow-on effects of the pandemic.
"While some businesses might be closed, they're making decisions as to whether to re-open," he said.
"Late September will be the time when many will make a decision, because that's when JobKeeper will run out, and that's when many banks have deferred mortgage repayments to.
"A lot of businesses have deferred that decision... That's why we'd love to see people in the community safely out and about, spending at these businesses and bringing the economy back to life, to make that decision more of a positive one come September."