The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has commended the South Australian Government’s decision to extend the state’s commercial rent relief scheme until 3 January 2021 with provision for further extension, providing a critical lifeline for South Australia’s retail sector.
Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA, said the timely extension provides significant relief to small and medium-sized retailers still suffering due to the impacts of the pandemic, with some stores – particularly those in discretionary categories – continuing to trade below pre-pandemic levels.
“This has been a significant advocacy focus for the ARA and we are extremely pleased that the South Australian Government has recognised the need to extend this scheme, which has kept many stores running and helped keep workers employed,” said Mr Zahra.
“Every week as we approach Christmas is critical to laying a strong foundation for retail recovery, and this period will be make or break for many businesses. The final quarter of 2020 is a time where retailers make their biggest sales and replenish their cash reserves to put them in a strong position for the following year.
“We thank the Premier, Deputy Premier, and the Treasurer for their continued engagement on this issue and for providing certainty to the hardest hit retailers. This will ensure the burden of recovery is shared between tenants and landlords and provide a solid footing for a sustainable retail sector with a return to vibrant shopping precincts,” said Mr Zahra.
Mr Zahra commended landlords who had been cooperative with retailers so far, and exhorted them to continue their support for retailers who continue to fight for survival, even if they were no longer eligible for JobKeeper or exceeded the $50 million turnover threshold.
“Many stores have fought their way to more healthy sales figures following lockdowns, but we are by no means out of the woods. South Australian retailers provide jobs for thousands of local workers and some businesses may not survive when support is withdrawn or reduced in the coming months.
“We ask landlords to be understanding of the position of any retailers battling to recover, and continue to provide rent relief proportionate to their downturn in sales even if they are not strictly covered by the code,” Mr Zahra said.
“We appreciate the impact of rent relief on landlords, and the financial support offered to landlords is also important to ensure greater viability for all parties.
“South Australia is only the second state to announce the extension of its rent relief scheme after Victoria, and we urge the other states and territories to extend their respective schemes to provide much-needed support for hard hit retailers as we enter the final quarter of 2020 – a crucial time for the recovery of the retail industry.”
“We can’t underestimate the hit that retailers are taking and the flow on economic impact from Victoria. We hope that this extension will help retailers fulfil rental obligations and come to a fair agreement with their landlords, ensuring the sustainable recovery of retail and the ongoing health of commercial tenants,” Mr Zahra concluded.
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About us: founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association is Australia’s largest retail association, representing a $325bn sector employing more than 1.3m people. As Australia’s premier retail body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members. To learn more, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.