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

A lockdown without being locked down

I have 4 shops in Melbourne, two in Westfield centres and two on the high street.

Shopper traffic in the shopping centres is noticeably lower now than during any of the Melbourne lockdowns, but we are not in lockdown right now. Traffic is not only down in centres in which I have shops but others, too, from what retailer colleagues tell me. This is why plenty of retailers are on reduced hours – there’s not enough revenue to cover overheads, like wages.

Out on the high street, traffic is good as are sales. But shoppers are nervous, that’s what they say. In think that nervousness is a reason we are not seeing the retail sales surge like we did in the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns. back then people had government support funding available and they were funding dealing with the shift in how they work and live. Today, there is no government support and they are used to living and working in this situation.

Ten days ago we had the ANZ EFTPOS data indicating a significant contraction in shopping. Plenty of retailers support that with their own data and their first-hand observations, especially in shopping centres where the hit is hardest.

The experience is a reminder of the value of online and being able to transact with those not prepared to leave home, because online remains strong, and it enables me to reach people way beyond my local community.

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  1. Cameron

    It’s an indication of how much virus is actually out there. With official numbers of 30k± new cases each day, suggestions are the real figure could be five times this.
    Long testing queues that nobody wants to join, closed testing stations, closed pathology labs, staff on summer holidays, samples being thrown in the bin discouraging people from bothering to test in the first place, low or no symptom carriers, unavailability of rapid tests. If you have up to 2% of the population getting the virus each day it’s certainly going to show up in the retail figures. Especially if their family and friends are isolating as well.

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  2. Jonathan Wilson

    It wouldn’t surprise me if there are people out there (young, vaccinated, no risk factors, that sort of thing) who are more worried about having to isolate (loss of income, inability to go about their lives etc) than they are about any health outcomes from catching Covid and that’s why they are avoiding being out in the community so much.

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  3. Graeme Day

    All what you say is happenning. The result is scary in that people do not want to participate with each other in the same way as before.
    Lack of confidence in this way in this way of accepted lifestyle is taking its toll.
    It’s now up go the individual in small business to accept and push harder with their wares by promoting and in essence being happy in the way they do things. It’s the spirit of positiveness that will carry and transfer to others with our attitude.
    After all the alternatives are just not going to work especioally for small business owners as they don’t have areat fall back position.
    I see a light with what’s happening out there in that the fear of the unkown (the freedom in mixing again) for those that participate is showing us thus this epidemic is being exhausted, slowly and a tad harshly but leading to better things the Worls has changed and samll businesses adapt better than most. Keep up the good work and the results will com.e.

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  4. Michael

    I am in a strip shop and people are nervous. It’s all well as good to tell retailers to push through but when there is a wall of fear it is difficult. Perrottet is an idiot. So is Hazard. They are clueless about living with this. They care more about a rich church than they do about everyday people in the real world. My customers are scared and I offer a happy place as much as I can. But there needs to be leadership federally and at the state level in this is to improve.

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