The hard six-day lockdown announcement handed down by the South Australian government yesterday came as a blow to many businesses across the state, which on a moments notice were forced to close their doors.
Fortunately, petrol stations, convenience stores, and supermarkets were granted a reprieve and being deemed as essential services have continued to trade.
But an announcement about extended trading hours that was delivered to retailers late last night, has left them feeling “ambushed” and with no time to prepare.
Under the exemption, issued by Treasurer Rob Lowe last night, supermarkets are given the option of 24-hour weekday trade during a 14-day period from today until 2 December (inclusive).
They are also able to open for an extra four hours until 9pm on Saturday 21 and 28 November.
And on Sunday 22 and 29 November, they can trade from 9am until 9pm (instead of 11am to 5pm).
With the extended trading hours being put in place for a period of two-weeks, it has left retailers wondering whether the Government is already planning on extending the hard lockdown measures beyond the initial six-day period.
Colin Shearing, CEO of South Australian Independent Retailers told C&I that he suspects that the lockdown will be extended to 14 days.
“The question of this is why were we not consulted? And why if it’s a six-day lockdown period, why have they deregulated trading hours for 14 days?
“There must be a secondary lockdown on its way, which they still haven’t told the community and they still haven’t told us.”
Shearing spoke with the Treasurer at 5pm yesterday afternoon but was told nothing about the extended trading hours until he received a media release from the Treasurer’s office four hours later.
“This makes no sense at all, it’s not needed and has nothing to do with social distancing, unless they (the Government) are saying that the majority of South Australians cannot be trusted to shop in normal trading hours,” says Shearing.
“We actually need additional time to re-stock and fully sanitise our stores, plus our staff need to be rested.
“There has been no consultation with the independent sector and again we have been ambushed just like last time, where we eventually got a meeting with the health authorities who promised to consult on future events.
“The lack of consultation by this Government, not even a simple phone call, is so disrespectful and a blatant disregard to the owners and their staff of our South Australian independent supermarkets businesses, who have been absolutely slammed over the past 24 hours with unnecessary and unprecedented panic buying, since the announcement yesterday of the state’s six-day hard lockdown,” says Shearing.
The panic buying that ensued yesterday’s lockdown announcement put retailers across the state under immense pressure, scrambling to ensure they had adequate stock levels. It has been described as “chaos” with reports of months’ worth of certain items flying off the shelves in just one day.
It’s a situation that left Shearing feeling “embarrassed to be a South Australian”.
But fortunately by this morning, he said that the panic buying was starting to calm down and purchasing behaviours were beginning to return to normal.
Shearing wanted to stress to South Australians that their independent sector is “the strongest in the nation”. He says that there is absolutely no danger of stock supplies running out.
“We will be continually around the clock refilling our shelves, that won’t be a problem. But what we’re saying is that there will be times where some of our stores will need to close because they need time to sanitise, they need time to rest their staff, they need time to organise their staff and they need time to re-order.
“We are proud of that and we work with that. First thing for us is protecting the community and we are absolutely all for it. But there is absolutely no need to make shopping unrestricted.”