Edit: For more information about First Responders Day, and what retailers are doing to support the sector, see the official website here.
On Thursday, June 25, retailers across the country are offering discounts to the first responders that have worked tirelessly during the last few months – fighting fire and a pandemic – to keep the Australian public safe.
And while the First Responders Day initiative is primarily about giving back to these men and women, it is also about kicking off a lighter mood in the sometimes dour retail space.
“We wanted a feel good activity to help elevate the mood for retailers and consumers, and of course to thank first responders,” Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra told Inside Retail.
“This is the first time the ARA [have run] this kind of national promotional campaign, and we’ve pulled it together rapidly as an industry response to give back to those that have kept us safe.”
The ARA spearheaded the campaign, and, when developing the campaign, saw a lot of excitement and great feedback from Australian retailers keen to get in on the idea.
“We’re pleased with the retailers’ response, there’s great power in retailers coming together in this way – it’s a win win,” Zahra said.
Offers can range from between 5 and 50 per cent off in-store products and services, while other retailers are offering a gift with purchases.
Superdry, for example, is offering first responders 25 per cent off of full priced and sale items, while Hush Puppies is offering 40 per cent of full priced items.
“In light of recent challenges facing our community, Brand Collective and the ARA would like to honour and thank the first responders that have stepped up across Australia,” Martin Matthews, chief executive of Brand Collective, told Inside Retail.
“The essential services provided by a brave few have served and protected the many, and we wish to reward that.”
Super Retail Group chief executive Anthony Heraghty said all four of its brands – Supercheap Auto, Rebel, BCF and Macpac – are “primed to salute our first responder heroes and do our bit to help revitalise the retail industry”.
A Spotlight Group spokesperson said additional discounts are being offered at Spotlight, Harris Scarfe and Anaconda, atop its EOFY sales.
Questions have been raised, however, about whether the ARA should be asking retailers to discount items at the moment – with most businesses still feeling the aftershocks of the COVID-19 lockdown, and facing down an uncertain future with the cliffside of Jobkeeper approaching.
“We’re conscious of the retail challenges at this time and have engaged with our members, who see this as a win for them and their customers,” Zahra explained.
“It’s at the discretion of the retailers as to how they choose to get behind this promotion. First Responders Day is a unique initiative and fitting for the time we are in, and we look forward to brighter times ahead.”
According to the ARA, the association is advocating for JobKeeper money to continue flowing into areas of high need, such as discretionary retailers and those in tourist hotspots or regional locations.