Headlines have been dominated by the new COVID-19 variant, just as Australia has been looking forward to a return to normalcy this Christmas. While much is yet to be learned about this variant, we will be watching today’s National Cabinet meeting closely. International travellers have already had their “welcome back” date pushed to 15 December. We are acutely aware that any steps backward on the return to normal will be harmful not only to your businesses but your mental health. Please ensure that you are taking care of yourselves at this time, and we will do all that we can to advocate for a balance between health directions and security for your businesses as more information about the Omicron variant comes to light. 

We have also been advocating strongly on behalf of our retail workers who are experiencing customer aggression and abuse in Victoria since the transition to the “vaccine economy”. The stories we have heard about customer behaviour have been appalling, and we have been advocating directly to the Victorian Government to implement measures to protect our vulnerable workers, such as increased police presence in centres and shopping precincts.

In more positive news, the October ABS results revealed some bright news for retail as we entered an absolutely terrific sales weekend. According to the October retail trade report compiled by the ABS, sales soared by 4.9 per cent on September’s results. New South Wales and the ACT coming out of lockdown always meant we were going to see improvement from September’s figures, but there were rises in six of the eight states and territories. 

Discretionary spending appeared to be strong for October, with rises in five of the six categories. This spending only seems set to grow for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period.  

We saw customers flooding into shopping precincts and CBDs eager to spend on Christmas presents. The NRA has predicted a record spend of $5.6 billion nationwide, which is an eight per cent rise on 2020’s figures. Those of you who joined in on the Black Friday to Cyber Monday mania and offered bargain prices, I hope it was a busy and successful few days. 

All the best for the week ahead.

Dominique Lamb

Chief Executive Officer