Industry groups welcome COVID assistance as businesses face catastrophe

Industry groups the National Retail Association (NRA), the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA), and the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) have welcomed the latest round of assistance measures as businesses in key parts of the country face catastrophe.

The assistance measures come immediately after the three associations announced a suite of proposals aimed at keeping lockdown affected businesses alive. Announcements by state and federal governments in the past 24 hours that the NRA, FCA and AACS have advocated for include:

  • Emergency cash payments to businesses (subject to criteria) in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia;
  • Tenancy relief (subject to criteria) in both New South Wales and Victoria.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the assistance measures come at a make or break moment for many retailers in lockdown affected regions.

“The Greater Sydney and Melbourne regions are Australia’s two largest economic centres and both have spent a prolonged period in lockdown,” Lamb said.

“Retail contains the second largest workforce in Australia and mass job losses in this sector would have a domino effect across the rest of the economy. More support was needed for businesses in Sydney and Melbourne, but there remains real concerns for the general ecosystem moving forward with lockdowns still not a thing of the past.

“Retailers welcome tenancy measures but we also recognise that while there has been some relief for landlords, the property industry remains one of the few to subsidise businesses without large-scale support.”

FCA CEO Mary Aldred said that her members welcomed several announcements unveiled yesterday.

“FCA members are appreciative of measures such as cash payments and tenancy relief for eligible businesses. These initiatives will provide much needed financial and emotional help to those in the franchising sector,” Aldred said.

“As businesses strive to rebuild in the wake of COVID treading restrictions, it will be a lot harder for the economy to bounce back if we’ve experience heavy job losses. We welcome the support measures but also ask governments at all levels to closely monitor the situation and consider further assistance where necessary.”

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare said that further lockdowns meant that increased government support was the only option to prevent major job losses and business hardship.

“Not only are many small businesses having to navigate the challenges of ongoing lockdowns, but also the business uncertainty these restrictions breed. Beyond the panic-buying spree that occurs in supermarkets when a lockdown is announced, consumer confidence falls following lockdowns and stores in all locations experience a significant drop in foot traffic,” Foukkare said.

“More comprehensive support was required and our Victorian and New South Wales members welcome that. State and Federal Governments responded quickly to the AACS’s advocacy this week and we urge our elected leaders to continue listening to the business community.”

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