Extended NSW lockdown puts extra $4b in retail trade at risk

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the expanded NSW-Commonwealth JobSaver program and the increased Covid Disaster payments announced today along with Victoria’s increased business support and the reintroduction of a commercial tenancy relief measure.

With around 100 days of state-imposed lockdowns a reality this year, and whilst worker support is strongly welcomed, broader measures such as commercial rental relief and industrial relations flexibility are needed to create business confidence and certainty, said ARA CEO Paul Zahra.

“The extended Sydney lockdown is costing retail around one billion dollars a week in lost trade. The four-week extension of the lockdown could spell the end of many small businesses as income dries up and debts continue to mount,” Mr Zahra said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, until vaccination levels increase, any state or territory can be at risk of these lockdown impacts for the foreseeable future. A national approach to lockdown support is critical and the ARA is calling for reinstatement of the Leasing Code of Conduct nationally.

“We applaud the Victorian Government’s leadership with today’s commercial tenancy relief announcement. This will go a long way to supporting small business through recent lockdowns and future challenges. In NSW, we need to see the immediate reinstatement of the Leasing Code of Conduct for businesses who are currently facing a lockdown of nine weeks with no end in sight.

“The Leasing Code of Conduct, along with JobKeeper and industrial relations flexibility were all highly successful in supporting businesses through the first wave of the pandemic. As the Delta variant runs rampant businesses are feeling the pinch more now than at any stage before in the pandemic. They need the safety-net of tried and tested support schemes that we know are effective,” Mr Zahra concluded.

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