Melbourne retailers were able to open their doors to customers again on Saturday and the first days of trade have been extremely successful for appliance specialists including E&S, Camberwell Electrics and Winning Appliances, as well as national retailers including Bi-Rite and Harvey Norman.

E&S executive director, Greg Lake told Appliance Retailer the team was extremely excited to be back doing what they do best – engaging face to face with customers.

“To have people lining up before opening does demonstrate customers wanting that real showroom experience and to close off some of the sales that they have been discussing with our teams during lockdown. Having just had two very big days to close off October, I think November and December will be huge for us,” he said.

Camberwell Electrics co-owner, Hans Vanderstadt echoed Lake’s comments, saying it was great to be able to interact with customers face to face again.

“We had a busy Saturday with customers coming in store to buy everything from small appliances to heating and cooling products, as well as big ticket appliances. On Sunday, we were busy answering the phones and responding to online queries. We closed off on a strong October, despite being in lockdown for all but three days,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“It was so refreshing to see our customers return to the store and you could see the relief on their faces after such a lengthy lockdown.

“Although we were busy, I expect trade to ramp up from Wednesday following the Melbourne Cup public holiday as a lot of people would’ve visited shopping centres over the weekend, while others travelled to regional Victoria.

“We continue to promote ‘shop local’ and invest in digital marketing to encourage customers to ‘give us a go’ so bring on the next few weeks in the lead up to Christmas.”

Winning Appliances general manager for retail and commercial Harry Boileau said Winning Appliances and Rogerseller showrooms have experienced an incredible customer response to the first few days of opening in Richmond, Chadstone, and Brighton.

“We have had a large number of customers visit us in-store to start their new kitchen, laundry and bathroom projects and we have also welcomed back in customers who we were assisting virtually and over the phone, while our showrooms were closed,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“With our company mission to create the best experiences in the world for our customers, our people, our communities and the planet, the health and safety of our team and our customers is a priority. In a commitment to the safety and health of our team and our customers and in line with Victorian government mandates, all Victorian Winning Retail team members working in our showrooms and customers entering our showrooms, are required to be fully vaccinated.”

Harvey Norman executive director, David Ackery told Appliance Retailer, “We are excited to effectively have the whole country back trading for the first time in a long time with Melbourne retailing re-opening. We are preparing as well as you can for peak trading coming into Christmas.”

Bi-Rite CEO, AK Sacur said the one thing that has remained constant during the last 18 months is the unpredictable effect the pandemic continues to have on retail trade.

“With the reopening in Victoria, we are hopeful of a positive impact on sales given the biggest trading periods of the year are just around the corner. While there may not be an immediate surge from the reopening, having retail open for Black Friday, the gift giving season and Boxing Day will be crucial for the retail sector,” he told Appliance Retailer.