As the enforced closures of ‘non-essential’ services sanctioned by the government were activated yesterday, many quick-thinking businesses have reinvented themselves to stay viable during the uncertain conditions.
Services that will remain open include supermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations, home delivery services, pharmacies, bottle shops and beauty salons/hairdressers.
Among the businesses to temporarily shut are pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding attached bottle shops), gyms/indoor sporting venues, cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, nightclubs and places of worship.
While cafes and restaurants have had to move to a take away or home delivery only model.
As the sudden, drastic measures began to sink in yesterday, some business mustered a little ingenuity to adapt to the conditions.
As The Shout reported, some pubs have already switched gears to become makeshift convenience stores to sell their now surplus supplies to consumers. adapted to selling their now surplus supplies to consumers.
Some cafe have followed suit, working with their suppliers to sell their goods direct to consumers, many via home delivery.
Australasian Association of Convenience Stores CEO Jeff Rogut said it reflected the need of all sectors to work together to survive the fraught conditions. However, he cautioned it showed there was a need for convenience stores to also be able to have restrictions relaxed, including over the sale of alcohol.
“Irrespective of sector, small business operators need to be creative to navigate these challenging times. While such pop up stores may not necessarily be deemed essential services like established convenience stores and petrol stations, this type of creativity perhaps shines a light on how we can all work together in support of our communities,” he said.
“The AACS has campaigned for deregulation in the packaged liquor market for many years. On principle, it is never our intention to impinge on anyone’s ability to do business, but these examples again highlight the inconsistencies in liquor laws across different jurisdictions. Where other operators are permitted to compete with established convenience operators, we merely seek the right to compete in new categories like packaged liquor too, as international convenience stores are able to do.”
“Any reasonable measures and initiatives that keep small businesses open and trading through these tough times to serve their communities should be encouraged.”
The ACCC is also calling for businesses to join forces, granting supermarket operators interim authorisation to coordinate with one another while working with manufacturers, suppliers and transport/logistic services to continue to provide consumers with “fair and equitable” access to goods.
The authorisation does not allow supermarkets to agree on retail prices, however. Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash are included in the authorisation and other grocery retailers may apply to participate.
“Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem. We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic buying. We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time.”
Coles has also announced it will donate $1 million of groceries per week to food relief organisations including Foodbank and SecondBite to help vulnerable Australians.