With New South Wales approaching one month in lockdown, and Victoria experiencing its fifth hard restrictions, calls are increasing for greater government assistance for retailers.
Peak industry bodies have said that businesses are struggling to survive the current lockdown conditions across Australia’s two largest states and are in desperate need of additional support.
The National Retail Association (NRA); Franchise Council of Australia (FCA); and Australian Convenience Stores Association (AACS) CEO, are asking respective state and federal governments to consider the following measures:
- The reintroduction of JobKeeper to businesses in NSW and VIC affected by the current prolonged lockdowns.
- Business support around leasing to manage increased small business debts.
- A stimulus package to address drops in cash flow.
Dominique Lamb, CEO, NRA, said that the current lockdowns could jeopardise the all-important Christmas period.
“Each week both NSW and Victoria remain in lockdown a combined $2 billion is being ripped from the coffers of affected retailers.
“The longer these lockdowns drag on, the greater the need for more comprehensive support packages than what has been announced.
“Christmas may occur in December, but for retailers the preparation begins as early as September. If businesses and jobs fall by the wayside during the current lockdowns it will have retail in a precarious position heading into the most important time of the year.”
Mary Aldred, CEO, FCA, said small businesses in NSW and VIC were at the crossroads.
“Many businesses in these two states are facing financial and emotional devastation.
“We need the respective state and federal governments to provide urgent assistance to keep people employed, manage mounting business debts and help with reduced cash flows.”
Theo Foukkare, CEO, AACS, echoes the need for more extensive assistance measures as lockdowns across the two states continue.
“Even for businesses still able to trade under lockdown, there remains a large degree of uncertainty that affects consumer spending.
“Large-scale support measures would not only help businesses survive the financial cost of the lockdowns but would also take a massive emotional weight off the shoulders of affected small businesses.”
Currently workers who have lost hours are entitled to payments through the COVID Disaster Payment Fund, depending on how much time they have lost, but the associations say that their members need further assistance in order to survive prolonged lockdowns.