New South Wales retailers have reported a positive reopening day after the State’s 107-day lockdown, according to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).

Paul Zahra, CEO of ARA, said there is relief amongst retailers and excitement from shoppers, who have demonstrated mostly compliant and respectful behaviour.

“It’s been a fantastic start. NSW Retailers are relieved and excited to be open and customers are out and about taking full advantage of Freedom Day privileges – with hairdressers and beauty therapy one of the most popular destinations.”

Zahra admitted there was apprehension from retailers regarding elevated customer aggression due to the vaccination requirements.

“We know this is coming from a small but vocal group, and we are optimistic these individuals will continue to behave respectfully and comply with the law. Enforcement is a matter for the authorities, including police. Retail teams should be trained in who and when to contact authorities for support.”

Overall, the reopening of the state is a positive one for retailers as they attempt to recoup the losses incurred during lockdown and that the coming weeks will play a big part in this year’s financial outcomes for retailers.

“Every dollar spent in this lead-up to the all-important Christmas trading period works twice as hard for retailers as it’s the most critical and profitable trading period of the year for many. We know there is a lot of supressed shopping demand and the next few weeks will be amongst the most important for many small businesses in particular, who are fighting for survival after the lengthy 100-day lockdown.”

Zahra gave credit to retailers and their teams, and to the NSW government in keeping the roadmap on track and that the success of the day is something Victorians can look forward to when retail reopens there.

Zahra also stressed the importance of retailers ensuring they’ve taken all ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure compliance regarding vaccination checks including having clear signage at entrance points and through the store, and training staff how to check vaccination status.

“Checking vaccination status is a new safety protocol and like QR codes it will take a little time for customers to adjust. Naturally, this will be an even smoother experience when the NSW COVID Safe app is integrated.

“Businesses should also have completed and updated their Covid safety plans which help inform government that they have thought about and taken their reasonable steps,” said Zahra. 

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