Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra welcomed the National Cabinet’s release of the government’s roadmap for a staged reopening of the economy, commending the Prime Minister, state and territory premiers, and chief ministers for their collaboration as the retail sector prepares to shift from crisis to recovery.
Mr Zahra said the government’s guidance today provides many retailers with the confidence to reopen and a framework for anticipating when the Australian economy will return to full operation.
“Retail is a bellwether for the overall economy – when retail is firing, the economy is firing. And whilst we anticipate a slow path to recovery, today’s announcement gives retailers who are planning to reopen the clarity they needed to proceed with confidence.
“Retail is Australia’s largest private employer, with more than 1.3 million people, or almost 10% of the workforce, working in 135,000 businesses across the country. It contributes $325 billion to the national economy.
“Whilst there is still some pain to come for retailers and the Australian economy in general, ARA is confident there are good fundamentals in place to allow retailers to shift from crisis mode towards a slow recovery,” he said.
Mr Zahra said whilst there is likely to be some enthusiasm from consumers as shops continue to open their doors, the overall mood remains cautious.
“The safety of customers and staff is our top priority, and retailers are making every effort to prepare a safe in-store environment and abide by restrictions specific to each state and territory. Shoppers can expect the continuation of measures such as social distancing, limited numbers in stores and increased hygiene and cleaning. These will be a regular feature for some time and will require extra patience and sensitivity from retail staff and customers,” Mr Zahra concluded.
“We want to see a safe recovery – not a false start, which can be costly for retailers. The ARA has yesterday issued a detailed set of Retail Reopening Guidelines to its members to help them safely reopen to customers,” said Mr Zahra.