Retail groups call on customers to follow health orders, curb abuse

Retailers are still vulnerable to Covid impacts, says ARA CEO. Image: @Dari via Twenty20

With Sydney’s retail industry re-entering a much harder lockdown following a number of infectious cases making their way through stores, infecting more people in the process, five industry groups have united to call for understanding and patience from the community.

The Australian Retailers Association, National Retail Association, the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association released a joint statement over the weekend calling on shoppers to abide by the health rules when they shop.

“We ask Australians to recognise and support the important work of these teams in keeping customers Covid-safe,” said ARA chief executive Paul Zahra.

“Retailers have doubled their efforts to ensure their stores are safe shopping environments and will continue to encourage customers to do the right thing and follow the health measures in place. We ask the community to please respect their efforts.”

Angus Nardi, executive director of SCCA said shopping centre and retail staff often find themselves the subject of abuse for simply reminding people to follow government health orders, such as wearing a face mask or using a QR Code check-in before entering a store.

As such, the coalition of industry representatives together released a five-point action plan for retailers and shopping centres to use as a guide to keep their business, their customers and their staff safe.

First, security guards and other qualified personnel should monitor customer adherence to health guidelines, including regular police visits to shopping centres during the lockdown.

Second, retailers and centre operators should work to maintain all essential safety measures such as emergency exits, power supplies, smoke alarms etc, to keep staff safe.

Third, employers should have daily check-ins with their staff to stay up to date with their wellbeing and ensure they are properly informed about the current restrictions and have proper personal protective equipment.

Fourth, abusive and violent behaviour from customers should not be tolerated, and employers should monitor for such behaviour to ensure workers are being respected.

A lastly, ensure that staff and customers are adhering to social distancing requirements.

“These are incredibly challenging times for NSW and Victoria and it’s critical that everyone plays their part when visiting stores to uphold safety standards,” said National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb.

“Retail businesses and their employees are operating under a particularly stressful environment and customers need to comply with all protocols when entering a store and [be] respectful towards staff.”

Last month, The Reject Shop began rolling out staff training in order to help staff effectively manage increased customer abuse.

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