GROWING vacancies in Terralong Street have the municipality's business and tourism leaders concerned about the CBD's vibrancy.
Rent increases have played a major part in Brumby's bakery, Bevans Kiama and Stephen C Ray Jewellers exiting the strip.
Kiama Toyworld is occupying two premises while it seeks a tenant to take over one of its leases.
Bevans director Anthony Langlois said the business now worked solely out of its Gerringong office because it did not make sense to remain in Kiama.
"Everything in real estate is on the internet and almost no one comes in the door these days," he said.
"It's not worth paying $100,000 a year in rent in Kiama when I could hire two more staff."
Mr Langlois said the commercial rental market was decreasing in value, not increasing, and with buildings needing a facelift, the rent hikes in Kiama's main street were unsustainable.
He expected more businesses to vacate in the near future.
Janette Clement-Motzo and her husband, Max, ran Brumby's for eight years before they were forced to give up their premises.
They reached the end of their franchise agreement mid-last year, but they hoped to rebrand the business and remain in Kiama.
However, the price demanded by their landlord was 30 per cent above the market value and they have since established a bakery in Stockland Shellharbour, delivering bread directly to Kiama businesses.
"We were terribly sad to leave Kiama - we offered $70,000 a year, which was more than anyone else was paying, but were told it was 'grossly inadequate'," Mrs Clement-Motzo said.
"[The landlord] said people would be queuing up to take over the lease,