Maitland Business Chamber has taken action to address the city's widespread retail crisis and will organise a forum for all key industry stakeholders.
President Judy Brown confirmed the chamber will facilitate a retail forum in April for local traders she said are struggling to keep businesses afloat and must feel abandoned.
Her announcement follows a series of recent Mercury reports on struggling bricks and mortar businesses - not only on The Levee but also at Stockland Green Hills and other satellite centres in the local government area.
In The Levee there are dozens of vacant shop fronts and there has been an exodus of major national retailers from Stockland Green Hills.
"The forum would include retailers from areas including but not limited to Rutherford Green Hills, The Levee, Morpeth and East Maitland," Ms Brown said.
"Retailers must feel abandoned and need to be included in the process of figuring out why things are not working. We need to do as much as possible as both business owners and individuals," she said.
The forum's format would include a panel, giving each sector the opportunity to speak about their experiences and hear how the current climate is affecting them as a business owner.
"We need to put the focus back onto retail and a forum would be a great starting point, however it mush be an ongoing approach," Ms Brown said.
"Retail at the moment is a hard environment due to the focus on online shopping. Retailers need a point of difference."
She said the growing number of shop vacancies in The Levee and the number of businesses closing in general, has been a 'great frustration' for the chamber and its members.
"Trying to understand what needs to be done and being able to flex to meet the needs of the consumer is tough. We need all the help we can get," Ms Brown said.
Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) Assistant Secretary David Bliss, told The Mercury last month that retailers are in the midst of the largest structural reform in decades.
"Retailers need to radically rethink the trajectory in recent years of blaming wages and conditions of employment. Penalty rate cuts have drained money from workers' pockets and they can no longer spend money in shops," Mr Bliss said.
He said there was 'absolutely' a need for a forum or collaboration of key stakeholders in Maitland.