The extension of Victoria’s seven-day lockdown by another week will result in a cumulative $2 billion ‘hammer blow’ to local retail, according to the peak national industry body.
According to calculations made by the National Retail Association (NRA), the total loss in sales will be ‘substantially higher’ than the earlier forecasts of revenue loss if Victoria’s lockdown only took place for seven days.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb acknowledged the public health imperative to lockdown the state but expressed concerns that once restrictions eased, businesses would continue to suffer from a slump in consumer confidence. This was especially the case for in-person shopping, she added.
“Foot traffic across major shopping precincts worsens with each lockdown, the Melbourne CBD has tracked consistently at 40 per cent below pre-pandemic levels,” Lamb said.
“Retailers understand that public money doesn’t grow on trees, but without further government assistance real carnage could be inflicted on the Victorian economy.”
The NRA is pushing for more government relief on top of the $250 million business package announced by the Victorian government at the weekend. The industry body is calling for the Commonwealth to dig deep and do its bit on the understanding that lockdowns will be a reality of dealing with COVID-19 for now.
“The JobKeeper program did a marvellous job in keeping businesses across all industries afloat during the height of the pandemic. But clearly hard-lockdowns are not yet a thing of the past and we strongly urge the commonwealth to provide targeted assistance to retail businesses currently haemorrhaging during this round of heavy-handed restrictions,” Lamb said.
Lamb warned that without extra help, retailers would be forced to fire employees.
“Each day Melbourne remains in lockdown, businesses are either having revenue channels dramatically slashed or shut off all together, but still have to pay wages. If no help arrives, many affected retailers will have no choice but to shed jobs,” she added.