South-East Queensland lockdown brings Delta’s retail impact to $12 billion nationally

Monday 2 August 2021

More than half a billion dollars’ worth of retail trade is at risk with the lockdown in South-East Queensland extended to eight days, adding to the pain small businesses are suffering from Covid impacts across the country.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said with the lockdown continuing in Greater Sydney and restrictions imposed in other states over the past month, the Delta variant has so far put around $12 billion worth of retail trade at risk nationally.

“This is a mounting crisis with around 100 days of state-imposed lockdowns so far this year and unfortunately current case numbers mean that number is certain to rise,” Mr Zahra said.

“There are currently nine million Australians subject to stay-at-home orders across NSW and Queensland and our woefully low vaccination rates mean that these rolling disruptions will continue for some time to come.

“Retailers and their teams are doing their part to keep Australians safe, however the continued restrictions are having a heavy financial and emotional toll. We estimate the eight-day lockdown in South-East Queensland will put more than half a billion dollars’ worth of retail trade at risk, with most shopping activity at a standstill.

“We welcome the $5,000 payments for small and medium businesses announced by the Queensland Government, along with the Federal Covid disaster payments that’ll be available. Unfortunately, this won’t fully compensate businesses for the losses they’ll suffer. Businesses still have to pay their rent and staffing costs whilst their revenue plummets or stops.

“The continued, rapid transmission of the virus in multiple states reinforces the need for national solutions to what is quite clearly a national challenge.

“We need to see nationally consistent support measures, including the return of the Leasing Code of Conduct and flexibilities in the Fair Work Act, that were all highly successful in supporting businesses through the first wave of the pandemic last year.

“As the Delta variant runs rampant, businesses are feeling the pinch more now than at any stage before in the pandemic and need the safety-net of tried and tested support schemes that we know are effective.

“Even with the existing state and federal support schemes that are available, we have grave concerns for the survival of many small businesses in the face of Delta’s current impacts.”

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