Struggling Victorian retailers face fifth lockdown since the pandemic began.
Earlier today the State Government announced a lockdown would commence from midnight tonight until Tuesday, July 21.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said affected retailers stood to lose a combined $750 million.
“Retailers understand the need to keep the community safe, but our Melbourne members will certainly be frustrated by another lockdown – it really is Groundhog Day,” Ms Lamb said.
“Even a short, sharp and successful lockdown can have a giant impact on businesses forced to close. Not only do they forgo revenue for the days they’re unable to trade, but reopening is not like flicking on a light switch – rosters need to be organised, stock needs to be ordered, and protocols need to be implemented.
“The NRA forecasts that affected retailers stand to lose $750 million in turnover over the duration of this five-day lockdown.
Ms Lamb said retailers were doing their part to encourage an uptake of vaccinations to transition beyond lockdowns.
“The retail sector is leading from the front in encouraging Australians to get vaccinated. With a substantial number of retail workers interacting constantly with members of the public as part of their job, the sector appreciates the need to assist with the vaccine rollout,” she said.
“Some retailers have provided a half-day paid leave to enable workers to get inoculated. While other incentives include providing benefits such as frequent flyer points and membership programs.
“As a peak industry body, we look forward to further engagement on this issue from both the Federal Government and other business groups to get Australia back to normal as quickly as possible.”
According to Australian Retailers Association, $1 billion worth of retail trade is at risk with Victoria entering a five-day lockdown; building on the $6 billion in retail trade already at stake with the extended NSW lockdown and the previous lockdown in Victoria.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said today’s announcement of a lockdown for Victoria brings the state-imposed lockdowns to a total of 68 days in 2021 alone.
“This is Groundhog Day for Victorians. This lockdown delivers another billion-dollar blow for retail businesses and workers who are yet again the innocent victims of the virus and our delayed national vaccine rollout,” Mr Zahra said.
“Victorians have been to hell and back over the past 18 months and lockdowns have sadly become a way of life. The impact will be immense – we estimate another billion dollars’ worth of retail trade is at risk, and many small businesses are past breaking point.
“Vulnerable businesses, in particular CBD retailers, hospitality and beauty businesses have yet to recover from the last lockdown in June, and unfortunately now, it’s back to square one.
“Lockdowns have a financial and a social cost, taking a toll on people’s confidence and their mental health. We must ensure accessible support measures are in place and well promoted to those who may need help.
“The Federal Government has said the economic support measures that were set up for NSW are a template for other states should they be plunged into lockdowns. We look forward to the Government swiftly following through on that commitment for Victorian workers who will be displaced and the businesses that are forced to temporarily close their doors.
“NSW and Victoria are the engine rooms of the national economy, and with Australia’s two largest states now in lockdown, our pandemic recovery is in a precarious position.
“Retailers respect and support the health measures in place and have worked around the clock to protect their staff and customers from Covid. However, with this situation stretching into a new financial year it’s clear that vaccines are our only ticket to freedom and the only way we’ll see an end to lockdowns and restrictions that are crippling so many businesses and livelihoods.
“The ARA continues to work with the Federal Government on how the retail industry can assist in the vaccine rollout and we stand ready to support this effort in any way we can.”