Retail struggle in January 2020

After being in lockdown for weeks on end, the Victorian Government has announced a roadmap to steadily reopen the state. Unfortunately, asides from essential retail outlets, the sector will remain closed until at least 26 October. This will bring the total time that retail has been in lockdown to 13 weeks, but that could still be extended if infections have not drastically decreased.

This is very concerning news for many of our Victorian members and retail more generally. The impact this will have to the state’s economy cannot be overstated and it will have a ripple effect across the rest of the country. We’re about to head into the Christmas trade period – the busiest time of year for retail – and there will still be many businesses closed or limited in how they trade.

Public health should be a priority, but will also need to balance safety with getting the economy reopened to limit the number of jobs that will be lost. To all our Victorian members, we will continue to advocate to the Victorian Government for the necessary financial support and any other forms of assistance.

And on the economy, last week the ABS officially confirmed that Australia is in recession. GDP for the June Quarter plunged by 7 per cent, meaning the country will experience its first economic downturn since 1991. The next six months is set to be difficult for all sectors of the economy, as the full economic damage of COVID-19 plays out. No doubt the central theme of the October Federal Budget will be what the Commonwealth Government plans to do to buttress the fallout and mitigate the number of businesses that go under. As the second largest workforce in Australia, retail must be front and centre when the Treasurer hands down his Budget and we hope to see effective measures put in place to assist each and every one of you.

Also, last week the ABS also released it Retail Trade Report for July. Although it revealed what would appear to be a healthy rise in turnover of 3.2 per cent, as we know this does not reflect the true state of play. Given every state, other than Victoria, had lifted restrictions in between June and July it meant a rise in retail sales was inevitable. Moreover, assistance measures such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker have artificially kept consumer spending higher than it otherwise would be.

On that subject, the Federal Parliament passed legislation last week to extend the JobKeeper scheme until 28 March 2021. However, there are several amendments that will take place for the second iteration of the program and participating businesses do need to re-apply if they wish to stay in the scheme beyond 27 September. If you couldn’t attend the webinar we conducted last week, you can read further information on JobKeeper 2.0 at the NRA website or contact our workplace relations team on 1800 RETAIL.

Lastly, the past several months have made it evident that supply chains need to be agile in order to withstand disruptions from disasters. Retailers of all sizes are not immune to the changing priorities that come with disruption. Next Tuesday, our logistics partners Zebra Technologies will be hosting a panel discussion on how to best navigate these warehousing and supply chain issues, and catering to the online customer.

Register for the webinar

All the best for the week and keep well.