Aussie Retail Cautious About Christmas Reopening
The CEOs of Wesfarmers and JB Hi-Fi are among those hoping for a retail reopening to make the most of a post-pandemic spending boost – but neither seem too optimistic about the chances.
Speaking to the AFR, Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott said that reopening won’t just be as simple as flicking on a light switch, but believes that once we reach a 70 per cent vaccination rate, it should be safe.
“We’ve demonstrated they’re safe and as the community gets to that level of vaccination, there will be no reason for the businesses to be shut. I think well in advance of Christmas is a very reasonable target,” Scott told the AFR.
Terry Smart, CEO of JB Hi-Fi, isn’t expecting a widespread reopening until next year.
“Once the vaccination rate increases, we feel we will see business open up, we’ll see people start to move around again, and we would anticipate if vaccinations continue at their current rate that will be early next year,” Mr Smart said.
“I’m not sure we’re expecting to see pressure on sales at that point. It will be further down the track before we see international travel open and people confident to travel. That will come at a later date, where we start to see some pressure for competing dollars.”
Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths expects a late November reopening.
“I think another three months of lockdowns,” Mr Banducci said.
“There’s a new normal, and it’s much more digital, it’s much more e-commerce- enabled. There is no going back to the old way of working. There will always be a need for safety in stores, and flexible working will be a reality.
“The new normal is pretty much locked in based on what we experience in the next three to four months.”