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“No choice”: Premier extends store closures to May 11

Premier Investments is keeping its bricks-and-mortar stores closed until at least May 11, in line with Federal and State Governments telling Australians to stay home except for essential reasons.

The company, which owns Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans and a number of other retail brands, was among the first retailers in Australia to close stores and stand down staff in response to falling foot traffic due to COVID-19.

It initially planned to reopen stores at 9am on Wednesday, April 22, but on Tuesday, the company said it had “no choice” but to continue temporary store closures in Australia.

“Our decision […] is consistent with the clear message reiterated by the Prime Minister that the population should only leave the house when it is absolutely necessary to go out,” the company said in a statement.

“As the Premier of Victoria has stated, no shopping trip is worth a life. Whilst our seven brands do sell much loved discretionary products, it is irrefutable that we are not an essential retailer.”

Confusingly, bricks-and-mortar stores in most retail categories are technically allowed to remain open under the current restrictions, but with Australians being told to stay home except for a few essential reasons, such as buying food, or going to work or school, many businesses in discretionary categories, like fashion, are choosing to remain closed.

Martin Matthews, CEO of Brand Collective, which operates a large portfolio of retail brands, including Superdry and Hush Puppies, said he wouldn’t reopen stores until Monday, April 27, at the earliest, but stores in states like Victoria and NSW, where restrictions are tighter, likely wouldn’t reopen until some time in May.

“We will only reopen with full confidence we can provide a safe working environment for our people and our customers,” he told Inside Retail.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is telling retailers to open only if it’s “safe” to do so.

“We have been advising our retail members to follow government direction and only open when they believe it is safe for both their staff and customers to do so,” said Paul Zahra, incoming CEO of the ARA, told Inside Retail.

“We are working closely with retailers on what a post COVID-19 consumer looks like and this may involve contactless shopping.”

If your retail business is closed, when do you anticipate reopening? If you’re still open, what’s your reasoning? Let us know at irnews@octomedia.com.au.

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