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Covid-19 — How is it affecting retailers?

With Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, filtering its way through the world, we are seeing some significant impacts on retail. 

Border and travel restrictions have meant tourism numbers are declining rapidly. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned tourists from China and Iran, and introduced new restrictions requiring all those entering New Zealand from overseas, including Kiwis, to self-isolate for 14 days.

China is New Zealand’s second-largest international visitor market so it goes without saying that tourism-based retailers are taking a hit. Chinese New Year was held in February and is one of the key events for Chinese tourists travelling to New Zealand. This year Covid-19 was in full swing during this period. This caused a high level of negative impact on tourism for the country and several events related to the Chinese holiday were cancelled. 

Tourism NZ is working hard to adapt and plan accordingly since receiving a $10 million boost from the New Zealand Government. Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen England-Hall said, “We’ve carefully considered where increased activity from us will have the most impact on short- and medium-term visitor growth.”

A new $12.1 business recovery scheme has just been announced by the Government. More details will be available soon. 

Imports from China to New Zealand has dropped $169 million compared to this time last year. New Zealand’s exports to China in the past four weeks are $142 million less than the same period last year (2019). While this data is not surprising following the mass hysteria surrounding the virus, we are still unsure of the exact sales and revenue impact it has had on retailers. We do know of retailers that have been reporting a loss of sales and visitors since the outbreak of Covid-19. 

A survey conducted by Opinion Compare shows that 60 percent of people were feeling the business they work for or own, has been affected by Coronavirus. Supply chain issues were reported by 20 percent and 69 percent are concerned that it will affect the New Zealand economy in the next 6-12 months. 

Many retailers are putting hygiene guidelines in place based on the World Health Organisation’s recommendations. Some online retailers are also looking at moving their office staff to a work-from-home situation and have cancelled international travel.

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