Retail struggle in January 2020

It hasn’t exactly been a good news start to 2020, with Australia having been gripped by unprecedented bushfires and much of the country remaining in drought. Now headlines around the world are being dominated by the latest health pandemic to arise, the deadly Coronavirus.

The infectious disease has seen the World Health Organisation (WHO) declare it an international health emergency. The Australian government has also acted by issuing that all travellers arriving from any part of mainland China, regardless of nationality, be subject to enhanced border control measures.

So, what impact could the Coronavirus, along with the Government’s response, have on the retail sector? The NRA has compiled a fact sheet and I encourage all of you to view it in full on our website.

Although there has only been a handful of cases in Australia, given the severity of the illness it’s still important to be pro-active in dealing with any staff member whose well-being you are concerned about. Any Australian who has recently been to China would no doubt have been quarantined already, but if you or an employee travelled through China in recent months, it’s wise to still visit a medical professional even if no symptoms are being displayed.

It’s also advisable to take a safety-first approach when it comes to your workplace. All of you operating in fresh food would already be ensuring that your staff engage in the highest possible hygiene standards, but those of you operating in other parts of retail should look to do basic things such as providing hand sanitiser for staff and sending any employee home who may be feeling unwell.

Further information can also be found at the Government’s website and if you, or anyone you know, is displaying symptoms you should phone the Health Directory hotline on 1800 022 222.

In other news, this Thursday the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will be releasing its retail trade report for December 2019. The November report was very promising, but it will be interesting to see whether events such as Black Friday have simply seen people shift their Christmas shopping from December to late-November. The feedback we received throughout December for the most part was positive and we’re confident of solid sales results.

Irrespective though, there is still no denying the challenges that belied retail in 2019 remain and governments at all levels should not be lulled into a false sense of security that a good Christmas period means the retail industry has broken free of its shackles. We have submitted a pre-budget submission to the federal government that will be made public soon and we are also devising policy measures we’d like implemented at the state level. Retail can’t afford to have a repeat of 2019 and frankly, nor can the Australian economy more broadly.

Have a great week!