More stores could be closing their doors if Australia moves for tighter restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.
A number of stores have already been forced or chosen to close including Myer, Apple and Flight Centre.
In a bid to ensure shops remain open, some big names including Bunnings Warehouse have introduced social distancing measures ensuring customers are more than 1.5 metres apart when inside.
But that still might not be enough to ensure some of Australia’s largest retailers remain open.
“The list of essential businesses or jobs gets really tight. Effectively it’s martial law without martial law. People will be monitored and fined for being out and about when they shouldn’t be,” he said.
What stores could close at the next stage?
Retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer, from Queensland University of Technology, told Yahoo News Australia the government has already made a “very clear determination” supermarkets will remain open.
“I imagine the government will make a decision on what’s non-essential,” Professor Mortimer said.
“And that would include hardware stores like Bunnings, including your corner hardware stores like Thrifty-Link, and large discount department stores like Target and Kmart,” he said.
“The only things which we’ll see open will be supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations but clearly physios, chiropractors and other allied health won’t shut down either.”
It could also be bad news for those of us who enjoy a cold beer after work.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but bottle shops will probably close too,” Professor Mortimer said.
“They’re really arguably not considered essential. Buying a bottle of wine is probably more of a want than a need.”
‘The biggest challenge’
Even after the dust settles from coronavirus, some stores might not reopen their doors.
Professor Mortimer believes “several” will not survive.
“The biggest challenge is for those remaining open – they are now suffering from a lack of foot traffic,” Professor Mortimer said.
He added at the start of the year “we were talking about the retail apocalypse”.
“For many stores now there are full-time and part-time staff who would have leave entitlements which would be draining the coffers,” he said.
“We also have commercial landlords charging retailers rent which could be $3000 a week for a place like a bar.”
Professor Mortimer added some stores are still holding inventory which can’t be sold.
“They’ll have to slash prices - it’s putting businesses under great financial strain,” he said.
The big lift which won’t happen
Easter would normally be a trade period “as busy as Christmas”, Professor Mortimer said with mid-season sales bolstering business for stores.
But that’s gone by the wayside, with a lot of trade to occur online.
“Big lifts in trade can’t happen,” Professor Mortimer said.
“The other impacts will be to those retailers in holiday hotspots such as Cairns and the Gold Coast where people would normally go holidaying over Easter with borders shutting.
“If you’re a business like a caravan park or a resort you’re looking forward to that influx.
“It’s not going to come.”
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