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Large Sydney Retailers Feeling The Pinch, Reject Calls To Close

Yesterday, the owner of Westfield’s shopping centres assured smaller retailers that they would be afforded rent relief during the Sydney COVID lockdowns, but major chains are also feeling the impacts, and fear that reduced opening hours or total shutdowns will cripple them.

Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott rejects the idea that the company’s Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks stores should reduce trading hours or close their doors.

“In Sydney we’re seeing customers overwhelmingly do the right thing,” he told The Australian.

“Customers have been told not to browse and they’re not browsing. They’re coming in to get what they need.

“It’s also important to note that a lot of our retail stores are used as online fulfilment hubs. So they are used for click and collect, kerbside click and collect, and also for click and deliver. So we need to have stores in order to deliver on the needs of the community through online.”

Not surprisingly, Gerry Harvey is also against closures.

“Because our stores are so big, with so few people – you might have one person in it for every 10 or 20 in a supermarket … so when you’re sparsely populated I don’t see that being open or closed makes much difference.

“If you’re going to close anyone, you’ve got to close the ones with multiple lots of people, crowded together and that’s ­mostly a supermarket. It’s very hard to close a supermarket because that provides food. So what do you do?

“The other thing is that if your fridge or washing machine breaks down or something, you could argue that it’s a necessity. I mean you could always go out and buy food by the hour if you don’t have a fridge.”


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