Retail struggle in January 2020

Coronavirus has changed life as we had come to know it in many ways. None of us will be going on an overseas holiday for some time, crowded events remain off limits and the economic fallout will be substantial.

From a retail perspective, it has impacted all of you regardless of where in the sector you operate. Just about all of you are having to cap the number of people who enter your store, record contact details of customers and limit some of the services you normally offer. Indeed, some of you still haven’t been able to restart trading or have been forced to close the doors again if you’re in Melbourne.

Last night, I took part in a forum lead by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions on the roadmap to recovery for Victoria. The Victorian Government will be implementing a “traffic light” system which will be used to determine how businesses and industries can operate when stage four restrictions are eased in Victoria with input from peak industry bodies. This finalised roadmap will be released on Sunday. The National Retail Association will continue to advocate for the best outcomes for our members affected by these lockdowns.

The pandemic has also changed consumer behaviour. Analysis released last week by AMP revealed that lockdowns had intensified the already growing rate of online sales. In particular, it appears that more Australians are making digital purchases on products for the home such as groceries, equipment and house furnishings.

This may see a few commentators get a little overly excited and proclaim the death of bricks and mortar retail. While there’s certainly challenges for any business following COVID-19, physical stores are not going to disappear when all restrictions are eventually lifted. Rather, the point is that for many of you an online revenue stream complements your store and helps to maximise sales.

While online retail certainly offers convenience, consumers who are looking for a shopping experience will always do that at a physical store. There is a future for both, but it will be interesting to see if any changes remain permanent or are merely temporary trends forced by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing it appears that a resolution has been reached between Scentre Group and Mosaic Brands. Last week a rent dispute between the pair resulted in 129 stores across Australia being unable to trade. It’s good news for all the staff who would have been affected, as well as the shoppers of the various stores that Mosaic oversees.

Also, last Friday the NRA was proud to launch a new publication for employers, the ‘Guide to Creating Trans Inclusive Workplaces’ as part of ‘Wear it Purple’ Day. The Guide explains important concepts, addresses common mistakes and misunderstandings, and educates businesses on steps they can take to create a more inclusive workplace for trans employees.

To launch the Guide, the NRA conducted a panel discussion with speakers from Headspace and LUSH Cosmetics. Thank you to all of you who attended the online event and we hope you find the Guide useful.


Watch the Panel Discussion


Download the Guide


All the best for the week and keep well.