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New Zealand retailers expect a bad season to get worse

Central city retailers are struggling with fewer customers as more people work from home.

New Zealand’s retail sector is in for a rough few months ahead, with the nation’s average spend down 16 per cent in the last month, according to the latest Retail NZ Retail Radar Report.

Retail NZ’s chief executive Greg Harford said 75 per cent of surveyed retailers didn’t meet sales targets for the last quarter, and 45 per cent don’t expect to meet the next one after a sales spike failed to materialise when areas outside of Auckland left Alert level 3.

More than a third of retailers aren’t sure if they can keep their business running for another year, Harford said, due to the increasingly tough trading restrictions imposed on them by NZ’s alert level system leaving them unable to cover costs.

“Retailers are facing significant losses like cost pressures, the ability to make rent payments, and a lack of stock across Alert Level 2 and 3,” said Harford.

“This is further reflected in [that] 87 per cent of retailers [asked for] the government to provide a financial payment to be used specifically for the costs of rent.”

A majority of retailers (69 per cent) are now unsatisfied with the way the government is reacting to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, compared to only 29 per cent last quarter.

As a result, Retail NZ has set out 10 steps the government can take to assist businesses such as retailers in being able to plan ahead and have a better chance of surviving another year.

  1. Set clear dates for the implementation of the Auckland Roadmap, so that businesses can plan ahead and that the public can get vaccinated
  2. Urgently implement saliva testing as part of the Covid-19 response
  3. Urgently provide a clear mandate for employers seeking to require staff to be vaccinated
  4. Backdate proposed rent relief arrangements to 17 August when the current round of lockdown restrictions started
  5. Provide additional financial support for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions
  6. Speed up the regulation of interchange fees – which would have a positive impact for small and medium retailers
  7. Put a two-year moratorium on further increases in the Minimum Wage
  8. Defer the proposed “Fair Pay Agreement system”
  9. Immediately vote down the Holidays (Parent-Teacher Interview Leave) Amendment Bill
  10. Stimulate the economy, and mitigate the impacts of cost increases by reducing the rate of GST

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