Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Advice for retailers on dealing with the bushfire economy

Mark Fletcher
January 17th, 2020 · 1 Comment

Beyond the lives lost and the buildings destroyed, the bushfires of recent weeks will most likely impact the economy and indie retailers for plenty of time ahead. We know from what followed on from the devastating Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 (179 dead and 2,029 homes destroyed) that the impact will be felt way beyond the local communities in which the fires occurred.

There are logistical challenges with several key trucking routes significantly impacted. This is being felt already with deliveries on the east coast impacted as well as between east and west.

There is the mindset impact where people outside of direct personal impact are concerned enough to delay or stall regular spending. I anticipate many retailers will see this. All the bushfire relief appeals will further reinforce this mindset. While the appeals are important and valuable, they play into the narrative of fear, which impacts spending.

There is also the knock-on economic impact. Some economists are talking of a bushfire led recession. The mere mention of that will be enough for some to pause or slow discretionary spending.

How do you cut through this? It is tough. I think the best approach is to be the best you can be at what you do on a regular basis. That is, to not promote a sale in response to the bushfires. Rather, trade as you would normally but with leveraging opportunities for fun and relaxation, where people get a break from tough news. People are in the mood for respite. You can give that to them.

People still have birthdays and anniversaries. Help people celebrate their loved-ones. People are going back to school and back to work. Help them with stationery.

At the core of much consumer behaviour is the desire to buy what you like. The key for us as retailers is to stock what shoppers like. There are many categories in transformed and transforming newsagencies that are working well and that lend themselves to promotion in this new economically challenging time in which we find ourselves in right now.

There will be people who need encouragement. Consider a display of products, cards and gifts, that help express encouragement – without making the display bushfire related.

What has happened and is happing with the bushfires is dreadful. The reach is extraordinary. I would caution you to moderate your engagement with a focus fixed on what works best for your business, because you can’t help anyone if your business is not successful.


Category: Social responsibility

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Graeme Day // Jan 17, 2020 at 7:55 PM

    Great article articulates the situation with sensitivity and respect. Mark at his best “because you can’t help anyone if your business ( I add if you are not positive which I believe is of the same sentiment) is not successful.
    What I respect about this blog is the segment of doing -the presentation of optimisim through ideas.
    We cannot go forward with negative thoughts never could never will this doesn’t mean there are not problems to solve.


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