“The [retail] industry in total is somewhat back on track but we’re solely a travel retail/duty free business and rely on international passengers as the oxygen to our business, and unfortunately we’re still incredibly starved of the oxygen we need to survive.
“JobKeeper has played a significant part in retaining our team members in preparation for borders reopening … with the industry support package not being extended we have no choice but to make decisions on our costs, given our sales are down nearly 98 per cent.”
This really is a case where a stitch in time saves nine. We cannot afford to leave people and businesses behind in Australia’s economic recovery.
— Paul Zahra, ARA chief executive,
Mr Goodman said Heinemann felt “very left out and disheartened by the lack of acknowledgement of our ongoing financial position through no fault of our own. We would have liked to have seen some support package that acknowledges the ongoing impact that the government’s decision to close borders has had.”
The Australian Retailers Association said job losses in the travel retail sector were inevitable once JobKeeper wage subsidies ended at the end of March.
“It’s good to see focused support for the tourism and aviation industry locally and the flow-on effects that will have for some retailers, but this [package] overlooks support for businesses severely impacted by international border closures,” the ARA’s chief executive, Paul Zahra, said.
“While the federal government has hinted at additional support measures in the May budget, that’s just too far away for these companies who are making decisions about job shedding this month.”
Mr Zahra said cheap loans for small and medium businesses might cover wages and business costs in the short term but would increase their debt burden and would not address long-term challenges.
“This really is a case where a stitch in time saves nine,” he said. “We cannot afford to leave people and businesses behind in Australia’s economic recovery.”
Meanwhile, the ARA has signed a three-year agreement with Mastercard, which will share data and insights to help ARA members navigate the road out of COVID-19 and collaborate with the association to promote and future proof the retail industry.
ARA members will also have access to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse data, which examines retail spending habits in Australia across a range of categories.
Mr Zahra said Mastercard would provide unique perspectives on payment trends, new technologies, the shift to digital and cyber security.
“The last year has emphasised the importance of digital capabilities for retailers across Australia,” Mastercard Australia’s head of retail and commerce, Aaron Fidler, said. “In strengthening our relationship, Mastercard and the ARA will bring unique insights and market-leading digital payment solutions to its members.”