The Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) has revealed that 10,045 small and medium sized retailers have received or been offered rental assistance from SCCA members to the end of July.

The clothing, footwear and accessories category made up 13% of the assistance given during the period, while cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services were most heavily impacted, making up 29% of those receiving assistance.

SCCA executive director Angus Nardi said that shopping centres are working to ensure small and medium retailers can welcome customers back when restrictions ease. 

"Shopping centres are doing their best to support retailers through this incredibly difficult time for the sector.

"The most important outcome is that ‘mum and dad’ retailers are able to stay established in centres, ready to welcome customers as they return," he said. 

Government restrictions were the main reason cited for accessing rental assistance, with 64% of total agreements reached with retailers in New South Wales and Victoria. 

Nardi added that while footfall has increased in some areas across the country, further or prolonged restrictions would negatively impact Christmas trade. 

"COVID-19 and the subsequent Government restrictions have had a profound effect on retail but shopping centres have remained open across the nation and footfall is increasing as restrictions have eased and consumers become more confident to continue with their daily lives. 

"Easing restrictions in most states across the nation is driving increased footfall across the nation, excluding Victoria.

"As we move towards the Christmas season we would anticipate consumer spending to pick up too in line with previous years, however prolonged and uncertain restrictions on trading conditions would put a traditionally lucrative end of year for retailers in jeopardy," he said. 

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