CE Retailers Hit By Siege Shut Down
Harvey Norman Martin Place, is only a few doors away from where 3 people died last night when a siege at a Lindt Cafe in Martin Place came to an abrupt end when the gunman started to fall asleep.
Retailers fear the siege in Sydney could further dampen already subdued consumer sentiment in the countdown to Christmas.
“I don’t want to be prophet of doom and gloom but you do worry about how this could affect spending,” Australian Retailers Association chief executive Russell Zimmerman said.
Also closed down was the Dick Smith store at David Jones Elizabeth Street. Other Dick Smith stores close to Myer along with the JB Hi Fi Pitt Street store were also closed down.
David Jones closed the doors of its flagship Elizabeth Street store – which is less than two blocks from the besieged Lindt Cafe – and customers and staff left the building.
Specialty Camera retailers close to Martin Place were also forced to close and consumers have been prevented from accessing the centre of the city.
“For Sydney city retailers it’s going to be a huge drain on cash flow and a huge issue for them,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“In the short term people will question whether they go into the city to do their shopping,” he said.
“You could also get people questioning whether to shop where there are major crowds.
The Australian National Retailers had forecast that consumers would spend a record $8.3 billion nationally this week but those forecasts could now be in doubt.
“One would hope consumers would look at this and say it’s a once only event and it’s not going to happen again,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“I suspect that retailers will need to reassess various aspects of their business moving forward, such as security,” he said.
About 100 stores in Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall were closed, and other main shopping centres in the CBD were empty of people.
Priceline Pharmacy chief executive Stephen Roche said its stores in Westfield Sydney and Pitt Street were closed to allow staff to leave the city.
The siege in the Lindt Chocolate Cafe comes with only a week to go before Christmas, which is the time when retailers make a significant amount of their yearly turnover.
Westfield said tenants in its Pitt Street shopping centre were given the option to close and send staff home.