Retail struggle in January 2020

Following months of the most stringent lockdown measures in the country, the Victorian Government has announced an expanded financial relief package to help stem the job losses in Australia’s second most populous state.

Tens of thousands of Victorian businesses will now be eligible for cash grants, payroll relief and cashflow support as part of a package worth $3 billion.

Grants ranging between $10,000 to $30,000 will be made available to licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres that have been decimated by COVID. The size of the grant for each eligible business will be based on venue capacity and location.

Payroll tax relief is something that the NRA has been campaigning on even before COVID. This year’s tax will be deferred for the entire 2020-21 financial year, freeing up $1.7 billion for businesses across the state, while the third round of the Business Support Fund will provide Victorian businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million, with up to $20,000 in instant relief.

Moreover, the package also contains funding measures to ensure that Victorian businesses that are currently closed are fully prepared to reopen under COVID settings. This includes a $20 million voucher program, a $15.7 million package to establish new trade channels, and an $8.5 million expansion of the ‘Click for Vic’ campaign to encourage shoppers so support local businesses.

In addition to payroll tax, other waivers and deferrals include:

  • bringing forward the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial properties in regional Victoria; a six-month deferral of the landfill levy;
  • waiving 25% of the Congestion Levy for this year and deferring the other 75%;
  • liquor license fees waived for the year; and
  • a waiver of Vacant Residential Land Tax for 2020.

While these stimulus measures only relate directly to our Victorian members, it is important to understand the ripple effect that would occur if that state was plunged into depression. Melbourne is the second biggest city in Australia and in 2020 so much of our economy is interconnected across the country. Indeed, a significant part of the supply chain for supermarkets comes out of Victoria and even a minor disruption could see empty shelves for some products.

We’re in for a tough economic time ahead, but the final three months of the year could determine just how bad things end up getting. Hopefully the support provided to Victorian businesses keeps as many people in a job as possible and we will continue to advocate to the Victorian Government (and all other governments) on assistance for the retail sector. Further details around the package can be found at the Victorian Government’s website.

The good news is that Victoria does seem to be getting on top of their COVID cases. At the time of writing, the last four days have seen below 40 new cases each day, which is a positive sign given at its height the state was recording over 700 new cases per day. Not only does this hopefully mean that stage four lockdowns in Victoria won’t be extended beyond September 28, it also bodes well for respective state Premiers to consider further lifting restrictions.

With retail set to head into its busiest (and most important) time of the year with Christmas, the more open the economy the higher the chances of you all enjoying a successful festive season. If the entire country has the virus under relative control by mid-November it will also help boost consumer confidence and result in shoppers spending more cash on presents and other items.

All the best for the week and keep well.