Retailers and retail workers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for a return to job subsidies and rent relief as the protracted lockdown in NSW threatens the sector nationwide.

In the letter to the PM, the Australian Retailers Association, the National Retail Association and the SDA, the union for retail and warehouse workers, note that the lockdown is putting such pressure on cash flow that many small retailers will fold and mid-size retailers risk closure nationwide with the loss of thousands of jobs.

The sector is calling for the return of targeted and proven measure such as JobKeeper 2.0, rent relief for businesses and the reintroduction of temporary changes to insolvency laws.

The signatories note that while they “appreciate the significant cost of this proposed package …. the harsh reality is that if these businesses fail the cost to the Australian taxpayer may be even larger…”

Retail employs 1.3 million people, ten percent of the workforce.

National Retail (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb, said, “Retail is one of Australia’s most important sectors and significant job losses are inevitable if further assistance is not granted to businesses in lockdown locations.

“Retail is worth more than $350 billion to the Australian economy. It provides the country’s second-largest workforce, employs more young people than any other sector and is a key barometer to Australia’s broader economic outlook.

“Even when the current lockdowns end, there will still be pain for many businesses. It’s not like flicking a switch and the day after restrictions are eased the business landscape just reverts to normal. Consumer confidence will be jolted and many retailers will continue to struggle to keep people employed.”