Most Australian retailers have been permitted to operate as long as they are able to comply with social distancing regulations (of 4sqm per person). These retailers include discretionary categories such as fashion, gifts and homewares.
Federal and selected state governments are gradually easing restrictions around public gatherings, how businesses can operate, and regional travel, with a 3-step plan in place to create a COVIDSafe Australia with new ways of living and working. Find out more here.
Metropolitan Melbourne will continue at Stage 4 lockdown, with restrictions to ease from 14 September as part of the first steps towards COVID Normal. The rest of Victoria is on Stage 3 stay at home restrictions, with all Victorians having to wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.
The closure of physical retail during the height of COVID-19 - combined with huge home-based populations and captive audiences - has generated a large uplift in online sales. Retailers with effective e-commerce capabilities are faring best, however consumer sentiment is at an all-time, historic low. Westpac recorded the biggest fall in Australian consumer confidence in its 47-year history of doing its survey, from 91.9% to 75.6%.
One of the strong messages to come out of this is the importance of brand. As more brands switch to Direct to Consumer models, customer acquisition online is increasingly costly. Customers overwhelmed with choice revert to brands they know and love. The value of strong marketing, storytelling and distinct brand positioning continues to be of vital importance. Arguably more important than ever.
Over the last month, different categories have experienced lifts and drops:
UP: Skincare, vitamins & supplements, leisurewear, at-home beauty, DIY and craft, gardening.
DOWN: Luxury goods, makeup, fashion, shoes, bags, discretionary expenditure e.g. umbrellas, handbags.
Supermarkets and pharmacies have become the major physical channels and brands selling through these have seen massive, yet unsustainable spikes. New Zealand companies without Australia-based stock have faced challenges during this period. Demand for non-essential product and/or product sold through physical retail has been severely reduced.
In addition, major cashflow issues in their reseller network mean some New Zealand companies are not being paid in full or on-time, or orders are reduced or cancelled. Those who sell through independent or specialist retailers have seen their retailers going through major woes. Sadly, many channel partners will not survive this.