Melbourne's busiest fashion precinct Chapel Street has sustained structural damage, after a magnitude-6 earthquake rocked Australia's south-east.

The tremor originated in Mansfield, a regional town around 2.5 hours from Melbourne by road.

Social media users have since shared images of fallen shopfronts in Chapel Street, home to major fashion retail stores and designer boutiques. 

Chapel street

— Tony Tardio (@tonytardio) September 21, 2021

The damage comes after a difficult year for traders along the iconic shopping strip, which spans four kilometres in the inner city suburbs of South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor and St Kilda.

Melbourne entered its sixth lockdown on August 5, forcing discretionary retailers to shutter their doors again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This week, the National Retail Association argued Victorian retail businesses seeking a chance to get back to business had been left disappointed.

The Victorian Government's 'Roadmap to Recovery' has taken a cautious approach to reopening, with constraints on businesses making opening almost untenable when lockdown ends at 70% double vaccination. 

CEO Dominique Lamb pointed out that retailers need to start planning now in order to be ready for the Christmas rush, where many businesses experience their make or break sales.

“We welcome a pathway to reopening the economy and living with COVID, but the restrictions that will remain on business will continue to hamstring the industry,” Lamb said.

“In this crucial time for retailers, a week and a half can make all the difference to their ability to survive. We query how it is feasible for so many of these small businesses to trade outdoors at the 70 per cent point – in particular, how this works for retailers in shopping centres.

“The impacts to staffing, regulating QR code check ins, mask wearing, and vaccine passports, and having their stock out of doors – where there are environmental issues like sun damage and potential for shoplifting – doesn’t seem to have been considered in this approach.

“We welcome the chance to speak to the Victorian Government about this roadmap, and to constructively develop a plan that helps our retailers get back on their feet after a year of devastating lockdowns.”

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