Retailers ‘Can’t Afford Another False Start’ – ARA Responds to New Restrictions

Power Retail By Power Retail | 03 Aug 2020

Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailer’s Association, has made a statement regarding the new Stage Four / State of Disaster restrictions imposed upon metro Melbourne this afternoon. 

The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has announced that all retail stores are set to close for six weeks.

“There are a number of impacts which are very concerning for retailers and there will be immediate financial loss from physical store operations for the retailers deemed as being ‘non-essential’ by the Victorian government,” Paul Zahra explained.

While the physical stores will close from 11:59 pm on Wednesday, 5th August, online will continue. This also includes Click & Collect, home delivery and Park & Collect services provided by retailers in Victoria.

“However the ARA has advocated strongly for online trade and distribution and for those with national distribution centres within the state to be allowed to operate. We are very pleased the provisions announced today will allow for some of this to occur,” Zahra said.

“Allowing online deliveries to continue will mean customers can source their important needs from retailers with an online presence. This will help omnichannel retailers cushion the losses from the closure of physical stores and ensure that customers can continue to access their everyday needs.”

For small businesses, those who are yet to invest in online offerings will be ‘strongly disadvantaged’, Zahra explained.

“Victoria is the freight and logistics capital of Australia, today’s decisions will also allow the ongoing supply of goods to the rest of Australia and allow for overseas exports,” he said.

Some aspects of retail will remain open. These include essential stress such as supermarkets, chemists, bottle shops and butchers. Hardware stores such as Bunnings will be closed to the public but will remain open for tradies only.

“We are pleased to see provision for retailers within some essential categories such as trade supplies to continue to offer their products alongside supermarkets, pharmacies, food retailers and other essential services which remain open,” Zahra said.

The Victorian Government has announced it will provide a $5,000 grant to metro and regional businesses that are affected by these new changes. However, there is the chance that the extension of restrictions may have a ‘crippling effect’ on these affected businesses. Mr Zahra explained that the ARA welcomes ‘deeper consideration of support measures for retailers impacted by the Victorian lockdowns’.

“We are keen to see Victoria extend the measures currently supporting business into 2021 due to the profound impact of this ongoing pandemic lockdown period. This includes an extension of the leasing code of conduct put in place for small businesses earlier this year, which is due to expire in September. Retailers need certainty to make business decisions around their future,” Zahra said.

Mr Zahra concluded by congratulating retailers in their effort to comply with these strict guidelines. “Retailers have been incredibly responsive to government requirements – often going above and beyond at significant expense,” he said. “We continue to urge all members of the community to do their part – here and around the country – we can’t afford another false start.”

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