Stores hopefully reopen after lockdown gloom

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As Adelaide stores begin to emerge from COVID-19 hibernation, retailers and homeowners are cautiously negotiating the damage caused by virus restrictions.

Their uncertain future prompts Business SA and commercial property owners to urge buyers and local governments to step up and avoid “cleaning up the carnage from a decimated small business sector later this year.”

Yesterday, more retailers opened in the city, from Saba and Carla Zampatti in Burnside Village to Cotton On and Mecca at Westfield Marion Mall.

Cafe Cibo was also seeing business pick up in Marion, with reports that owners were planning to reopen closed stores nearby next week.

Marion Shopping Center, Thursday, May 7. Photo: Belinda Willis / InDaily

But some leading brands will remain closed. Matt Blatt’s popular furniture stores closed their showrooms and online business nationwide a few weeks ago, including the Morphett Street store, auctioning off the last of its inventory online.

While Target is closing three stores nationwide – including at Pasadena Green Mall on May 30, with its 10 employees moved to other locations – the retailer says the closures are unrelated to the virus.

At Norwood Parade, Parade Central owner Mario Boscaini said the complex with nine movie screens and 22 tenants, including restaurants, Endota Spa, Silk Laser Clinic and fashion stores, had all been closed with restrictions on virus trade.

Some dining establishments sold take-out food, while the Gazman men’s clothing store recently opened with restricted hours.

Endota Spa started trading before Mother’s Day to sell products and gift cards, but its main business, massages and facials, is still banned.

Boscaini said the return to commerce was hit or miss, but what worried him more was the uneven distribution of government support as companies battled the COVID-19 tsunami.

He said retailers and employees were getting more attention from state and local governments, while landlords negotiating with tenants grappling with changing market conditions were ignored.

Boscaini, also a member of the Norwood Parade Precinct committee, wrote to every member of the state parliament as well as the local government association to ask for more support.

There have been no changes in tariffs or levies on emergency services for Norwood homeowners, he said, and the state government’s 25% reduction in property tax 2019-2020 on the affected properties did not help.

However, on Friday, the council of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters said it had approved a discretionary refund for owners of qualifying non-residential property who could prove financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The board said commercial property owners and non-residential owners such as RSLs and service clubs could claim a refund of the 20% difference for the fourth quarter.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said homeowners would be required to fully pass the $ 50 million in property tax relief on to tenants affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

“We also face our own challenges, but it seems the government is not interested in addressing these issues and working with landowners,” he said.

“We clearly need to support each other, but it shouldn’t be one-sided. “

Boscaini said the state government responses had been “we’ll take care of this,” while the local government association left it up to individual councils to decide their own responses to the tariff relief.

“Everyone is in the same boat, which is why everyone has to take part of the load,” he said.

Norwood, Payneham and St Peters council reimbursed the June quarter’s outdoor dining permit fees, but Boscaini said promises to postpone tariffs would not help in the long run.

Business SA chief Martin Haese backed the call for more help from the local government, saying tenants and landlords needed more support.

Only two local councils, Wakefield and Prospect, have agreed to call for a three-month waiver rather than a postponement of commercial property rates.

“It’s almost better to overtake the mark now than to clean up the carnage from a decimated small business sector later this year,” Haese said.

Business SA’s most recent survey of 500 respondents showed that 52% of small businesses in the retail, accommodation and food industries believed they would not survive three months of additional restrictions.

That’s why the association launched a Buy Local to Save Your Local campaign (below), with Haese warning that there was a small window of survival for those hardest hit.

In the city’s first Rundle Mall shopping district, chief executive Johanna Williams said the restrictions were being reviewed by the state and the federal government gave retailers the confidence to reopen doors this week, and to many more will follow next week.

“Some stores check shoppers’ temperatures and ask them to apply hand sanitizer before entering, and many only accept card payments,” she said.

“Over the past week or so, the mood in the mall has shifted from meeting basic needs to one of relief and optimism to resume larger purchases after weeks of necessary distancing, and we expect what positive sentiment grows as South Australians regain confidence. venture outside.

Stores that returned this week include Apple, Dymocks, Foot Locker, Hype DC, Dr Martens, Seed Heritage, Oxford, Lovisa and many more.

Rundle Mall Authority chairman Peter Joy said returning buyers would help jumpstart the economy.

“The retail sector has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, so the reopening of some of Rundle Mall’s key brands is good news for the economy – it gives others the confidence to follow,” he said. he declared.

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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