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Victorian retailers respond to stage 4 restrictions

Melbourne retailers will be forced to close their doors from 11.59pm Wednesday for a minimum period of six weeks, in line with stage 4 restrictions announced by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. Although the doors will be shut to customers, staff will be permitted to work on-site to fulfil online orders and provide contactless Click and Collect services.

Appliance Retailer reached out to specialist appliance retailers, consumer electronics retailers and department stores to confirm the impact of the restrictions.

Winning Appliances has closed its three retail showrooms in Victoria located in Richmond, Chadstone (pictured) and Brighton, in line with government restrictions and to protect the health and safety of its team and customers.

Winning Group CEO, John Winning confirmed that Winning Appliances will continue to serve Victorian customers in a contactless environment via the website and over the phone. Deliveries through its logistics company, Winning Services, will continue in Victoria with minimal contact and contactless delivery.

“We want to ensure our customers experience minimal disruption, given we know how important appliances are to everyday life; whether it be for hygiene, washing clothes and dishes, or ensuring the longevity of perishable food and medicines in fridges and freezers,” he told Appliance Retailer.

The Winning Appliances team remain employed with full salaries and will continue to demonstrate the benefits of the latest cooking and laundry technologies in innovative ways, including the virtual showroom, which launched in early May.

“The virtual showroom allows customers to virtually browse, shop and experience our Winning Appliances flagship Richmond showroom comprising of 624 tagged products from the world’s best appliance brands. It also includes technology, brand and recipe videos to help and inspire people,” Winning said.

Camberwell Electrics store owner, Hans Vanderstadt blames the tougher restrictions on an inept state government and the Black Lives Matter movements which created an apathetic attitude within the general public. 

“I am extremely frustrated because we shouldn’t be in this position. The poor handling of quarantine lockdowns flowed into other areas within the community and we are now suffering the consequences. I think the decision to shut retail stores is an overreaction, especially for stores like us who sell ‘essential’ goods such as refrigerators and washing machines. It is often easier to come down to the store and purchase this than buying it online,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“Thankfully our business has been doing well and we prepared for remote working a long time ago; however I do have serious concerns for people’s mental health and financial stability, especially those in business who have been in hibernation since March – this is the final nail in the coffin. But above all, good health is everything and despite these new restrictions, we are very fortunate to be in Australia during this pandemic.

“Our strength is being a local business, but suppliers need to remember the independents like us as we need their support.”

Hamza Hussein from Bi-Rite head office said the new restrictions were an unfortunate turn of events, when as a whole, it appeared that we were on a good trajectory.

“The recent developments in Victoria are not ideal, but I believe they are necessary to ensure the safety of all, which should be everyone’s priority right now. Our stores, where possible, will remain open and serve their respective communities as best as possible. Those that are in metro Melbourne will be facilitating our fulfillment of online orders, keeping to strict distancing and contactless methods,” he told Appliance Retailer.

The stage 4 restrictions will impact 46 JB Hi-Fi stores and 21 The Good Guys stores located within metro Melbourne. Online and commercial operations will continue to trade for home delivery and contactless Click and Collect with strict safety measures in place at the group’s warehouses and store network to fulfil online and commercial orders.

“The group is working to support Victorian team members and customers through this difficult time. The health and wellbeing of our team members, customers, business partners and the wider community remains the group’s highest priority,” the company said in a statement.

Wesfarmers has confirmed that Bunnings and Officeworks will remain open for trade and business customers but will be closed to in-store retail customers, as 39 Kmart stores and 34 Target stores in metro Melbourne close.

All of the group’s retail businesses will continue online operations through home delivery and contactless Click and Collect options.

“Wesfarmers recognises the impact these changes will have on team members, suppliers and customers and will endeavour to support its approximately 30,000 Victorian team members and work with the relevant authorities on strategies to reduce the risks of COVID-19 and recommence operations as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.

“Any team member stood down will receive a support payment equivalent to two weeks of normal rostered hours. Following this two-week period, the group will provide permanent team members with access to existing accrued leave entitlements. Wesfarmers businesses will also provide pandemic leave to eligible team members who may be required to self-isolate pending COVID-19 test results or other related reasons.”

Kmart Australia retail director, John Gualtieri said Victorians are facing extremely difficult circumstances and the business is committed to doing everything it can to support the effort to contain the spread of this disease.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, our focus has remained on keeping our customers and teams safe and ensuring everyone can access the products that they need. Under the new restrictions announced by the Victorian government, our focus will remain the same as we know there are many items our customers will need over this time,” he said in a statement shared with Appliance Retailer.

“Our products will remain available to all Victorians online through contactless click and collect and home delivery and our stores outside of metro Melbourne will remain open. For customers who need help with ordering we have set up hotlines to make ordering easy.

“We will be fully operating COVID safe procedures in all our facilities to ensure our team members have the safest environment we can provide for them and our contactless collection process makes accessing our products safe for customers too.

“We will continue to follow the advice of the Victorian government and we are committed to supporting our customers through this challenging time with the safety of our team and customers remaining our highest priority.”

Myer will close its stores in metro Melbourne including Melbourne City, Highpoint, Southland, Doncaster, Northland, Chadstone, Werribee, Frankston, Fountain Gate, Eastland and Knox.

Contact-free Click and Collect will be available from selected stores: Melbourne City, Highpoint, Southland, Doncaster, Northland and Chadstone, with enhanced health and safety measures.

“In line with government health measures and to protect the health and safety of our team members and customers, and the broader community, Myer will be closing metro Melbourne stores,” a Myer spokesperson said.

“During this time, myer.com.au will be available to our customers 24/7 across our full range with a reduced delivery fee and relaxed returns policy. Having closed stores earlier this year and operating online only, we saw unprecedented demand through our online store as well as through our contact-free Click and Collect service – and we expect the same again. As such, we are well prepared and ready to meet the needs of our Melbourne customers online during this period with a great range across all categories all in one place.”

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