9 August 2020
The first comprehensive analysis of the small business sector since COVID-19 restrictions began has revealed local businesses are on the verge of crisis and more than half face the prospect of closure.
The findings released today by Braddon’s United Retailers & Traders (BURT) shows Government must work carefully and strategically with local commercial operators to rebuild the local economy and infrastructure or inevitable job losses will result.
Following the ACT Government’s announcement of upgrades to Braddon and Dickson to stimulate the economy, BURT undertook a survey of Braddon businesses to establish what infrastructure & projects were needed to deliver results.
With COVID-19 restrictions still not fully eased, the results should set off alarms for local politicians. Among the most concerning figures are:Revenue losses caused by COVID-19
- Over 60% of businesses were partially or completely shut down during COVID-19 restrictions.
- 84% of businesses suffered revenue loss during restrictions.
- 68% of businesses lost between 50% & 100% of revenue during restrictions.
- 68% of businesses continue to experience revenue loss.
- 17% of businesses continue to experience revenue loss of between 50% & 100%.
- 44% of businesses reduced staff during restrictions, by an average 70%.
- 37% of businesses continue to operate on reduced staff, by an average 40%.
- 55% of businesses believe they would close or face serious threat to staying open if another shutdown occurred.
Discussions with other Canberra Trader organisations provides anecdotal evidence the crisis is not confined to Braddon, but is being felt across the ACT.
Spokesperson for BURT Kel Watt said the analysis made it imperative that the activities of business and Government were in alignment, or doors would close and hundreds of staff would face unemployment.
“The Government’s investment in beautification is welcome in principle, but all the footpath flowerpots in the world won’t do a thing to grow revenue and staff levels back to normal if the failures of current infrastructure are not addressed,” Kel Watt said.
“For the same investment of time and money, the Government can deliver upgrades that will actually work and attract customers and clients back to the Braddon precinct. So far, consultation has been minimal and the vitally needed improvements to parking, traffic flow and public areas don’t appear to be on the Government’s radar.
“With the Government linking upgrade work to the impacts of the coronavirus and need to help local operators, it is a no-brainer that upgrades identified by business should be made the priority.
“Likewise, the owners and employees in the hospitality, retail and beauty sectors are still in need of significant financial support. With necessary restrictions to prevent virus spread limiting use of floor space, neither the revenue or needed workforce will be back to ‘normal’ for some time yet.
“Failure to get the right policy and programs in place now will see dozens of Braddon businesses wind up and their staff without jobs. If replicated elsewhere, the economic crisis will be like nothing ever seen before.
“Owners and managers have said the crunch will come between now and Christmas, so the time for strategic cooperation is now, ”Kel Watt said.
The full report and analysis, including BURT’s recommendations is available online at: www.braddon.online/survey
The report has been sent to the ACT Government and Opposition, as well as to Federal MPs, ACT Election candidates and the Canberra Business Chamber.