News Coronavirus Retail returns as coronavirus restrictions ease: How shopping is changing around Australia
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Retail returns as coronavirus restrictions ease: How shopping is changing around Australia

A woman wearing a mask holding shopping bags
Retailers are preparing for a shopping blitz as coronavirus restrictions ease. Photo: Getty
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Australia’s retailers are preparing to be inundated by shoppers as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease around the nation.

The federal government’s roadmap to recovery unveiled on Friday has been followed by a relaxing of restrictions by states and territories, paving the way for a return to more normal life, including the full resumption of shopping.

Many Australians have taken the roadmap as a green light to hit stores, with thousands cramming shopping centres over the weekend as Myer reopened its department stores in New South Wales and Queensland.

The Australian Retailers Association said NSW and Victoria were busiest, and the shopping revival was a “great sign” for the retail sector.

ARA boss Paul Zahra said it was “great to see the obvious enthusiasm from Australians to get back to the shops after weeks of lockdown”.

However, Mr Zahra said the industry was “still waiting on a green light from some state governments before the full reopening of retail”.

On Tuesday, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews made clear his displeasure at shoppers returning to stores en masse.

I didn’t enjoy looking at footage of people wandering around shopping centres, potentially buying things that they didn’t need. This is not over,’’ Mr Andrews said.

On Tuesday, Smiggle, Just Jeans, and Peter Alexander announced that they would reopen this week – although the brands’ owner warned some might not remain open for long.

The latest retail figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week showed that while there was an 8.5 per cent rise in overall retail sales in March, only a handful of retailers such as supermarkets reaped the benefits.

By contrast, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clothing, personal accessory and department stores were hard hit.

Retail restrictions around Australia

Here is what consumers need to know about shopping in each state and territory:

New South Wales

  • From May 15, retailers allowed to have up to 10 customers inside at a time for non-essential shopping.

Victoria

  • Shopping remains allowed for essential supplies.

Queensland 

  • From May 16, retailers allowed to have up to 10 customers inside at a time, non-essential shopping is allowed.

South Australia

  • Many stores have reopened or will reopen this week. Non-essential shopping is allowed, but social distancing rules must be followed.

Western Australia

  • “Everyone should continue to practise appropriate social distancing and stay home, except for: Shopping for what you need, such as food or other necessary supplies,” the WA government says
  • From May 18: Up to 20 customers allowed inside at one time. Businesses must implement the one person per four-square-metre rule and provide hand sanitiser.

Tasmania

  • From May 18, retailers allowed to have up to 10 customers in store at a time. Department stores are already allowed to operate as they are considered essential.

Northern Territory

  • “If you’re healthy, you should go to the supermarket instead of shopping online. This will leave delivery slots free for the people who need them most,” the NT government says
  • Shoppers should follow hygiene practices, and obey the 1.5-metre rule
  • The NT government is aiming to have most business restrictions lifted by early June.

ACT

  • Non-essential shopping is allowed, but social distancing rules must be followed.