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‘Bitter blow’: Retailers brace for $3bn loss

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and a closed sign on a shop
Aussie retailers brace as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian flags tougher restrictions and a longer lockdown (Source: Getty)

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has called for an expansion of business support in NSW as retailers brace for the impact of a longer lockdown.

Lost retail trade is set to top $3 billion as the Greater Sydney lockdown faces another extension amid skyrocketing case numbers.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said business leaders are in support of the lockdown measures at today’s press conference.

“Business leaders small, medium and large have told us they would much rather we get out of this with zero community transmission and live as normally as we can until we have higher rates of vaccination,” she said.

However, ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the lockdown extension announced on Wednesday was a “bitter blow” for small businesses in particular, who are hanging on for survival without the safety net of JobKeeper.

“Whilst we are supportive of the NSW Government’s efforts to keep the community safe, we can’t ignore the devastating impacts this lockdown is having on retailers, and small businesses in particular,” Zahra said.

“This lockdown is now set to cost around $3 billion in lost retail trade, which is just not sustainable without adequate support measures in place for businesses and their staff.”

Now, the region is facing yet another extension with the state recording a further 44 cases today.

“We certainly hope this lockdown doesn’t go on for longer than is absolutely necessary,” Zahra said.

“This once again highlights how important it is to expedite Australia’s COVID vaccination program and the retail community stands ready to support this effort in any way it can.”

“No browsing, only essential shopping”

The NSW government has urged that Sydney-siders should not be leaving their home unless it is “absolutely necessary”.

“You cannot just go to the shops to have a look around because you’re bored and it’s a rainy weekend,” Berejikilian said.

Berejiklian flagged that the NSW government will extend support measures to businesses and households in the coming days.

“Of course, given the situation we are currently in, we are looking at extending support measures,” she said.

“Expect us to say something positive about that. I don't want people to stress about their financial pressures, not just for business but for households as well.”

Tougher restrictions

From 5pm today (Friday, 9 July) the following additional restrictions will be in place:

  • Outdoor public gatherings limited to two people (excluding members of the same household)

  • People must stay in their Local Government Area or within 10kms of home for exercise and outdoor recreation, with no carpooling between non-household members

  • Browsing in shops is prohibited, plus only one person per household, per day may leave the home for shopping

  • Funerals limited to ten people in total (this will take effect from Sunday, 11 July).

The four reasons to leave your home remain in place:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services (one person only)

  • Medical care or compassionate needs (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons)

  • Exercise with no more than 2 (unless members of the same household)

  • Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home.

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