Victoria will be plunged into another seven-day lockdown from midnight tonight, putting even more pressure on retail with businesses forced to close their doors.
The latest lockdown announcement from the Victorian government has been described as “another kick in the guts” by Camberwell Electrics owner, Hans Vanderstadt.
“From midnight, we will need to shut the front doors once again,” he told Appliance Retailer. “It is a kick in the guts… but we are fortunate that we can still fulfil online orders and Click & Collect services for replacement appliances such as fridges and washing machines.
“However, since our last lockdown in February, there has been a level of anxiety among Melburnians with feelings of frustration and fear – being on edge about when the next lockdown may be coming, which has seen a real slowdown in foot traffic.
“I am extremely concerned about businesses, particularly small business and those located in regional areas, but I am even more concerned about our mental health. These lockdowns come at the detriment of our health and wellbeing.
“Covid-19 has been poorly managed by the Victorian government and all I can say is, here we go again.”
e&s co-owner, Rob Sinclair said federal and state governments could do more to ensure the safety of Australians living here and to enable the safe return of Australian citizens from around the world.
“But we will be fine. Our team is well versed in managing uncertainty and delivering amazing customer service. We are excited about our June catalogue and marketing campaign incorporating TV, radio and digital,” he told Appliance Retailer.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the Victorian lockdown is a devastating blow for retailers, and consumer and business confidence and again highlights the threat of Covid is far from over.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said 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 said.
“Victorians have been to hell and back over the past year or so, and just when we thought the worst of Covid was behind us, it’s reared its head again mid-year.
“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. 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.
“Online, click and collect and home delivery is still available in Victoria and we encourage people to use those options for getting the goods and services they need. Most retailers have an online sales platform, so if there’s items you would normally buy in store – check out the online purchase, collection and delivery options they might have.”
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said 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.
“The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the entire country over the last 12 months, but none more so than Victoria. Foot traffic across major shopping precincts worsens with each lockdown, the Melbourne CBD has tracked consistently at 40% below pre-pandemic levels,” she said.
“JobKeeper is no longer in place to ensure Victorian retailers will not shed staff, but even a brief lockdown can devastate the bottom-line. 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.
“We urge both the Federal and Victorian Governments to work together and consider support measures for affected businesses across Victoria.”