Retailers need government support, not hindrance

//Retailers need government support, not hindrance

Retailers need government support, not hindrance

By Bev Strickland, Managing Director of Strictlymarketing

Businesses in areas of Australia which are in lockdown, are in dire need of more government support than ever before, which is why “throw-away” lines by government officials which can have devastating consequences for the retail sector, will be met with fury.

This was exactly the case last week in Brisbane when Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, on August 4 increduously implored those enduring lockdown to not shop online to ensure there are less delivery drivers on the roads.

Addressing a press conference as parts of Queensland endured their fifth lockdown, Dr Young, who confessed to being an avid online shopper herself, asked those thinking about ordering anything online, to wait until after lockdown.

“Do you need these people out in the community delivering packages and things,” Dr Young asked. “Maybe just leave it for a week. And click and collect. Do you really need that furniture?”

Yes, Dr Young is doing her job in trying to control the spread of COVID-19, but her statements about online shopping were simply ludicrous and served to further erode the retail sector in the state.

These throw-away lines by the Chief Health Officer are thoughtless, heartless and damaging and this is something government officers need to understand each time people in any area are plunged into yet another lockdown.

For many retailers, online retailing is all they have left to sustain their business during lockdowns, keep their staff employed and to pay the rent on their business and home, as the percentage of shopping being done online continues to rise because of ongoing lockdowns and consumer fears.

Imagine if you were a Brisbane retailer and your sole source of income was currently derived from online sales, and you hear the highest health authority in the State tell your consumer base to not shop until lockdown is over? Particularly given we do not know how long each lockdown will last.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals the retail trade sector accounts for 8.8% of all employment in Australia, 8.9% in Queensland and 8.6% of Greater Brisbane.

Anything which further jeopardises the job security of those working in the retail sector as it battles against the pandemic and lockdowns, is not going to be well accepted and nor should it be.

No-contact deliveries are working

Dr Young’s statements about online shopping also completely disregard the fact that contactless deliveries work and many businesses have changed their business model to include them.

In most cases, a delivery is dropped at the door and the recipient notified it is there. In it not even uncommon to no longer see the driver making the delivery, they have become so accustomed to the drop and dash method of delivery.

When my online grocery shopping from Woolworths arrived last week, I received a text message letting me know the groceries had been delivered to the door. The driver was in his truck and on his way before we even made it to the door.

We received our shopping and there was absolutely no point of contact throughout the process. The retailer received our custom and the delivery driver was kept busy with paid employment.

We are not all in this together

The statements from Dr Young show that we are not “all in this together” as much as governments love to insist we are. 

Each person managing this pandemic is coming at it from their own perspective and for Dr Young, that means helping stop the spread and reduce hospitalisations.

But in suggesting that consumers stop shopping online, she further jeopardised the financial and emotional wellbeing of retailers who are struggling to survive. 

The retail sector needs government support, not hindrance and until that is received, they will have been sadly let down by the Queensland Government. Let’s hope the Queensland Government learns from this mistake and will be that much-needed source of support if Brisbane should find itself in yet more lockdowns.


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