Data obtained from a survey of Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) members for the period up to 31 July shows that 10,045 SME retailers received rental assistance.
The largest amount of assistance has been rendered to retail categories most heavily affected by government restrictions, with food and catering service providers including restaurants, cafés and takeaway food services making up 29 per cent of retailers receiving rental assistance.
Retail services including hairdressers, beauty therapists and shoe repairs made up 19 per cent of agreements, and clothing, footwear and accessories made up 13 per cent.
Persistent government restrictions were cited as the main reason for seeking rental assistance. Unsurprisingly, Victoria was the most over-represented jurisdiction as a proportion of retailers obtaining assistance.
“COVID-19 and the subsequent government restrictions have had a profound effect on retail, but shopping centres have remained open across the nation and footfall is increasing as restrictions have eased and consumers become more confident to continue with their daily lives,” said SCCA chief executive Angus Nardi.
“Easing restrictions in most states across the nation is driving increased footfall across the nation, excluding Victoria.
“As we move towards the Christmas season, we would anticipate consumer spending to pick up, too, in line with previous years. However, prolonged and uncertain restrictions on trading conditions would put a traditionally lucrative end of year for retailers in jeopardy.”
Mr Nardi said shopping centres are doing their best to support retailers through this incredibly difficult time for the sector.
“The most important outcome is that mum and dad retailers are able to stay established in centres, ready to welcome customers as they return,” he said.