Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Advice for retail businesses designated essential

Mark Fletcher
March 26th, 2020 · 5 Comments

Here are some tips for your consideration should your retail business be designated an essential business in the looming lockdown. We hope they are useful:

At some point, retailers around you will be shut down for a time. If you are designated essential, the move will see affected retailers possibly upset at your favoured treatment for the newsagency channel, upset at you that you are open.

Your focus needs to be on how to adjust your business to the changing conditions. That does not mean going all out to rake in as much cash as possible. Rather, our advice is that you modestly adjust the business to serve the needs of locals. Those shop permitted to remain open could serve broader needs through this time

Look around and plan now for modest moves you could make to broaden the appeal of the business. Our advice is that you focus on categories you are already in – but with an expanded range, or products that fit with categories you already serve today.

We think stores remaining open need to make significant shop floor moves, to reflect the needs of the tougher circumstances and to demonstrate your respect for these as well as the wellbeing of shoppers and your team.

  1. Change your shop to look different. You are moving from open and competitive retail to special circumstance retail, essential service retail – there is a big difference. Making your shop look fundamentally different is very important.
  2. Create more space for shoppers to move around safely. Consider policing at the door how many enter.
  3. If appropriate, consider and entrance and an exit.
  4. Move destination products to the front of the shop.
  5. Pitch popular products at the counter. 
  6. Reset the counter. De-clutter. Keep essentials there. Have a thoughtfully selected range of impulse items. but, again, do not clutter the counter.
  7. Cashless. We urge you to encourage customers to pay by a card.  Click here for advice on how to safely remove hand gloves.
  8. Staff safety. We urge you to provide staff with gloves and the request they are changed every hour and that the outside of the gloves are regularly hand sanitised.
  9. Make the counter safer. Consider installing a perspex counter to further protect.
  10. Hand sanitiser freely available.

Category: Social responsibility

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Mar 26, 2020 at 8:37 PM

    Essential retailers should not sell non essential items. So servos sell mainly fuel, supermarkets remove gifts, pharmacies take out perfumes.


  • 2 Graeme Day // Mar 27, 2020 at 12:14 AM

    Colin, Is your statement a Government requirement of one you think.
    This would mean in effect that Woolies and Coles etc couldn’t sell things other than food, newsagents no lotto etc.
    All Essential Services have been given the classification as such to continue as they have been operating. Those that provide home delivery to continue to do so. Those that don’t to open to suit the general needs offered as they normally would.
    None of these services are required to stay open if they can’t afford to. It is their choice.
    If people are used to getting such and such from their local Chemist newsagents then that’s what they will expect to get when they visit them.


  • 3 Colin // Mar 27, 2020 at 8:02 PM


    My point is that if some supplies are designated as not essential and therefore outlets selling these items are forced to close. Then those that remain open as essential providers must not sell non essential items.

    There will be a fair amount of bad feeling when this crisis passes and those that profit from the privileged position of being able to trade must not take advantage of those not able to trade.

    My personal view is that those newsagents providing post office, convenience food shopping and banking are essential. But those selling mags, gifts, cards, wrap, stationery, plush, homewares, toys , books, plush…. (get my drift)…. should be classed as non essential.


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Mar 28, 2020 at 7:59 AM

    The thing is, government will be shingle based in their designation, as the Prime Minister indicated yesterday. The key will be that essential retailers not abuse the designation. Also, for some, given the shift is what shoppers purchase, the designation may not be of the value / benefit that some may think.


  • 5 Graeme Day // Mar 28, 2020 at 8:28 AM

    Yes Colin I now get what you mean. I have /had the same view. It used to be so different when the Home Delivery was essential and now with alternatives electronic immediate update etc. Also I thought the Govt. just blanketed us accross the board with one label Newagent irrespective of our “service offer”
    I can forsee a lot of newsagents closing over the next few weeks starting immediately espcially in Shopping Centres. The BIG $80m Lotto was not good for those newsagents and less than usual for this size Jackpot for strip ones I don’t know the on line figures however if they were up I would say not as much up as to make up the difference.
    The essessential services left to stay open Woolie Cole newsaagents(some) will I am afaid stock and serve whatever tey can especially with what they our asked for. Thanks or your explanation I wasn’t sure.exactly. I don’t like to get peolpe wrong.


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