Australian Retailers Association: despair lifts for retailers as reopening date set for

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said today’s announcement by the Victorian Premier of a likely 2 November reopening date for stores with an immediate reopening for hairdressers brings enormous relief for retailers and Victorians and comes off the back of many months of intense advocacy.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the ability for store staff to return to physical stores on 28 October to prepare the stores for Christmas is a clear sign the government has listened to advice from the sector.

“Whilst this date is many weeks later than we would have hoped, it is just in time for the official start of the Christmas shopping period and a very welcome news for retailers who have been desperately seeking clarity for months.

“The ARA has been calling for store staff to have the ability to return earlier to begin the arduous task of store preparations in time for the busiest and most important trading period of the year,” he said.

Mr Zahra said every day counts in managing customer expectations and spreading demand and to keep struggling retailers afloat and the ARA is hopeful the November 2 deadline may come forward if infection rates continue to decline.

“The extended lockdowns have destroyed thousands of retail jobs – and whilst retailers have been doing everything they can to stay optimistic and keep their teams employed, many can’t hold on much longer,” he said.

“Retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits at this time of year and that income has never been more desperately needed,” he said.

“Every day we get closer to Christmas creates a challenge to retailers in managing pent up demand and crowds. Not only are businesses needing to prepare for any Covid-related measures, they also need to be getting ready for Christmas, which includes potentially hiring extra workers and ordering and merchandising new inventory,” he said.

“The retail sector employs one in ten Australians. A quarter of the country’s retail sales come from Victoria, and as the logistics capital of the country, most retail warehousing and distribution is based in Victoria,” he said.

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