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Over $8B In Retail Trade Will Be Lost During Lockdowns

As South Australia enters its first day of lockdown, and Melbourne adds at least another seven days — with today’s skyrocketing case numbers in both Victoria and NSW meaning escape anytime soon is unlikely — the Australian Retailers Association warns that more than $8 billion of retail trade is now at risk, nationally.

This seems like a cautious number – the real impact is likely to far surpass this. Victoria reported 22 new cases in the 24-hours leading up to 8pm last night, while the NSW cases leaped to 110 cases in the same 24-hour period, with 43 of these in the community.

“Another day, another state in a Covid lockdown,” Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said.

“The financial pain continues to mount for small businesses who were already struggling before these latest outbreaks. The hopes for survival for many are quickly fading without adequate support measures in place.

“With the Delta variant becoming incredibly difficult to contain, it’s clear that lockdowns are going to be an ongoing feature for the rest of this year when it comes to managing new outbreaks in the community.”

Zahra said the ARA is calling for the return of the JobKeeper scheme to protect retail businesses and employees.

“Whilst the existing Federal Covid disaster payments are certainly welcomed, they fall short of a liveable income and the arrangements that were in place under the first phase of JobKeeper. This, along with the Leasing Code of Conduct, were major factors keeping businesses alive through the initial phase of the pandemic.

“We need to see these valuable measures return urgently with the Delta variant causing so much disruption to people’s lives and businesses.”

Zahra said the inconsistent approach nationally to lockdowns, and ill-defined “essential” retail is “an absolute nightmare for businesses with a national footprint whose stores are affected in different ways, depending on what city they’re in.”

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