The Victorian government today announced a seven-day lockdown in a bid to curb the state’s growing coronavirus outbreak.
While essential businesses such as supermarkets and petrol stations will remain open, retail associations have warned the lockdown will impact the broader retail sector.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra says the seven-day lockdown is set to cost over a billion dollars in terms of lost retail trade.
“We support the Victorian Government in their response to keep the community safe, but we can’t ignore the significant impact this lockdown will have on retailers, the Melbourne CBD and small businesses in particular,” he says.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb says that Victorian retailers are hopeful that the new round of restrictions will be short and successful, but many remain nervous given there is no assistance measures in place.
JobKeeper is no longer in place to ensure Victorian retailers will not shed staff, says Ms Lamb, adding that even a brief lockdown can devastate a business’ bottom-line.
“There will be no revenue coming in the door, fresh produce will become spoiled, and permanent staff will still need to be paid,” she says.
“Government support will be needed otherwise businesses and jobs across Australia’s second largest state will be in jeopardy. Not only are retailers hurt during the actual lockdown period, but even when restrictions are eased we don’t see economic activity return to normal like flicking a switch.”
The cost of lockdown
Mr Zahra says a seven-day lockdown is expected to cost retailers over a billion dollars in terms of lost trade.
“This isn’t just a financial cost – it’s a social one as well,” he says.
“This lockdown will have an enormous impact on people’s health and wellbeing and will shatter fragile confidence levels for the second half of the year. This will also set back the valiant efforts of state and local government to restore confidence and foot traffic within Melbourne’s hard-hit CBD.”
According to the NRA, foot traffic across major shopping precincts worsens with each lockdown and the Melbourne CBD has tracked consistently at 40% below pre-pandemic levels.