New South Wales retailers reported a smooth retail reopening last week as the state celebrated Freedom Day, according to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).
ARA CEO Paul Zahra says the mood has been positive, with excited shoppers, and mostly compliant and respectful behaviour.
“It’s been a fantastic start,” he enthuses.
“NSW Retailers are relieved and excited to be open and customers are out and about taking full advantage of Freedom Day privileges – with hairdressers and beauty therapy one of the most popular destinations.
“Naturally there were a few teething problems with vaccine certification, with some customers still unsure how to access their certificate. However, most people have remained patient and overall, it’s been surprisingly smooth.”
Zahra says the shopping activities in the coming weeks will play a big role in this year’s financial outcomes for retailers.
“Every dollar spent in this lead-up to the all-important Christmas trading period works twice as hard for retailers as it’s the most critical and profitable trading period of the year for many. We know there is a lot of supressed shopping demand and the next few weeks will be amongst the most important for many small businesses in particular, who are fighting for survival after the lengthy 100-day lockdown.
“Retailers have been apprehensive around elevated levels of customer aggression due to vaccination requirements. However, we also know this is coming from a small but vocal group and we are optimistic these individuals will continue to behave respectfully and comply with the law. Enforcement is a matter for the authorities including police. Retail teams should be trained in who and when to contact authorities for support.
“Checking vaccination status is a new safety protocol and like QR codes it will take a little time for customers to adjust. Naturally, this will be an even smoother experience when the NSW Covid Safe app is integrated,” he said.
“Retailers need to ensure they have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure compliance and this includes things such as having clear signage at the entrance points and through the store, and training staff in how to check vaccination status.
“Businesses should also have completed and updated their Covid safety plans which help inform government that they have thought about and taken their reasonable steps,” Zahra adds.