Today we mark the Lunar New Year and welcome the start of the Year of the Tiger. The Lunar New Year is typically a time of celebration, exchanging money and gifts in red envelopes (hongbao) and shopping sprees to start the year in style. We wish all of our retailers a happy and prosperous Year of the Tiger, but we have many challenges still to overcome.
The Lunar New Year is traditionally a boon to retailers in tourist hotspots, who count on the dollars from Chinese tourists to help boost their bottom lines. For the third year, these tourists have stayed away.
This New Year’s real gift would be for the state and federal governments to work together on a stimulus pack for those retailers and service providers impacted by the Omicron outbreak. We have been advocating strongly for relief measures to be re-implemented to ease the strain and welcome those measures implemented in New South Wales and South Australia. We urge the other states to also provide this relief – with over 95% of respondents to our recent COVID-19 Impact Survey reporting adverse business outcomes from the Omicron outbreak and dozens of stories about the struggle to source staff – it is vital that there is support incoming for the second largest industry in Australia.
We very much hope to see the federal government take notice of these stories. The National Retail Association has used the responses from this survey to advocate at every level to provide further support and will continue to do so. We exist to support the retail industry.
2022 has already been a challenging year. Supply chain issues are easing, and as COVID cases peak in each state, we look forward to seeing fewer staff in isolation. Australia is inching towards a COVID-normal lifestyle, but we must maintain our efforts to ensure retail can flourish in the Year of the Tiger.
All the best for the week ahead.
Chief Executive Officer