Myer has temporarily closed all of its department stores in New South Wales except for those in Albury, Dubbo, Wagga and Charlestown, citing government restrictions. Mecca has also temporarily closed many of its stores in New South Wales due to the outbreak, as have City Chic, Lorna Jane and Peter Alexander.
“With stay-at-home measures in place across greater Sydney, Myer stores in these areas are temporarily closed, however all greater Sydney stores continue to offer our contactless click and collect service and myer.com.au is available 24/7 for our customers,” a Myer spokesperson told Inside Retail.
Richard Facioni, founder and CEO of ACTA Capital, said cited the health and safety of customers and staff as the reason for store closures across the Ginger & Smart, Lego Certified Stores and Mosaic Group fashion brands, which he manages through his ACTA Capital and Alquemie Group portfolios.
“Our Sydney Mosaic and Ginger & Smart stores have been closed since the start of the current lockdown and will remain closed until we emerge from lockdown and it is safe to reopen,” he told Inside Retail.
“Our Sydney Lego Certified Stores remained open for limited hours for click-and-collect and in-store purchases. We stopped in-store shopping when the ban on browsing was introduced last week and are now offering click-and-collect only.”
Other retailers remain open
However, other retailers selling non-essential items remain open. David Jones has reduced its trading hours across much of its New South Wales store network, and is reminding customers to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in stores, but remains open for in-store shopping. Similarly, Kathmandu has closed two stores in New South Wales to the public except for click-and-collect, but is otherwise trading as usual.
Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott told the Australian Financial Review on Monday that customers shopping at Bunnings, Officeworks and Kmart stores in the locked down parts of New South Wales were not browsing, but rather coming in to get what they need. He also said the size of the stores and the precautions the retailers are taking make the risk of contagion low.
“The facts are that retail can still open and people can go to stores for the goods and services they need,” Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, said in a statement on Friday.
“But if you do need to go to the shops, get in and get out without delay – this is not a time for browsing or socialising.”
Zahra advised consumers to shop online and have items delivered or use click-and-collect if the option is available.
“Every dollar you spend keeps someone in a job — it doesn’t matter if that purchase is made in a store or over the internet,” he said.
Call for forced store closures
Gerard Dwyer, national secretary of the SDA, the union for retail, fast food, warehouse and online retail workers, believes the New South Wales government should order all retail outlets except essential businesses, such as supermarkets, fast food, service stations and pharmacies, to close, as the Victorian government did last year. However, he acknowledged the lack of a federal wage subsidy program will make that difficult.
“The SDA believes NSW should follow Victoria’s lead, but the failure so far of the Morrison government to provide NSW workers with adequate financial support makes ordering the closure of all but essential outlets harder to implement,” Dwyer told Inside Retail.
The federal and NSW governments are reportedly working on a joint wage subsidy program, which is expected to be announced imminently.
“What is clear is that the current arrangements leave retail workers and shoppers at greater risk of contracting COVID, meaning the NSW lockdown will last longer and slow down economic recovery in what is the nation’s largest centre of economic activity,” Dwyer said.
According to data from mobile wallet provider Stocard, in-store fashion and clothing purchases in Sydney fell by 46 per cent or more in the week of June 27-July 4, before the browsing ban was implemented. But that’s not as much as sales fell in Melbourne during the lockdown that took place at the end of May. There, in-store fashion and clothing purchases declined by 90 per cent or more in the week of May 27-June 2 compared to the prior week.
New South Wales reported 112 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, the highest number since the state first attempted to curb the outbreak by closing offices in the CBD on June 25. Now, it appears unlikely the current stay-at-home order will lift at the end of this week as initially planned.