Concerns remain at delayed retail reopening in Vic and ACT

Monday 27 September 2021

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomed the roadmaps to reopening announced today by the New South Wales and ACT governments, but said delays to retail reopening in ACT and Victoria are creating severe pain for retailers.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the roadmaps provide businesses with much needed clarity, but urged governments to reconsider the excessive thresholds required to reopen the retail sector in the lead up to the crucial Christmas period.

“Today’s roadmaps provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for long-suffering retailers, but many small businesses can’t endure any more delays,” Mr Zahra said.

“We would like to see thresholds for reopening in Victoria and the ACT reconsidered as a matter of urgency, as this Christmas trading period will make or break retailers who depend on these months to stay afloat.

“Safety is always the priority. However, we are calling for a consistent approach to bring reopening in line with the NSW plan to reopen mid-October when 70% of the population is fully vaccinated. ACT and Victorian retailers – particularly small businesses – are currently disadvantaged by the delayed reopening which jeopardises a significant number of sales.

“We would like the ACT and Victoria to reopen earlier to allow retailers to comfortably stagger demand in the build-up to the intense Christmas shopping period, where many discretionary retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits.

Mr Zahra said capacity limits imposed on click-and-collect operations for small and large ACT retailers in the build to reopening are also problematic as they are subject to a one size fits all five person limit, which is impractical for larger retail operations.

“It is pleasing to see capacity limits eased for NSW hair and beauty providers as the state approaches the 80% threshold, allowing these services to operate profitably.

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