You don’t have to look too far to witness the impact of Covid-19 on the retail sector. Visit any shopping centre or mall and you’ll find an increasing number of shop-fronts closed. You also don’t have to look too far to find a sale. Your inbox is likely flooded with newsletters from stores offering 20 (or sometimes even 50) per cent off current-season wares, and on the TV, it’s much the same. Brands and major department stores are dropping their prices in a bid to stay afloat.
For many retailers, online sales are their only source of revenue during this time, used to keep their business afloat and staff employed so that when the time comes to reopen, they still have a business. With social distancing restrictions and guidelines to self-isolate expected to remain in place for some time, retailers are adjusting to suit their new normal.
But it begs the question — should we still be shopping at a time like this? And if we can, do we have a moral obligation to spend money and support struggling businesses?
For many, shopping during a pandemic might seem wrong. An unnecessary indulgence at a time when there are people in the world who are dying or losing their jobs. Families who are experiencing real financial distress. There are various sides to the equation. Right now, where you choose to spend your money matters.
Just like we were urged to rally behind small businesses in the wake of the catastrophic bushfire season earlier this year, Australians are being urged to get behind small businesses during this time — the time when they need us most. If you’re looking for ways to support some local businesses throughout this tough time, here are a few suggestions.
Since we’ve been advised not to leave our homes unless it’s absolutely essential, just because you can’t physically go shopping, that doesn’t mean you can’t still support them. Most businesses have online stores that stock exactly what you’d find in-store. We’re not just talking about clothes, either. These days, you can buy just about anything online, from wine and beer to furniture.
If a friend has a milestone birthday coming up, why not buy them a gift voucher for their favourite store or restaurant? That way, once this has all blown over, they’ll be able to treat themselves on you, while the business will benefit immediately from your generous purchase. While they may have once been seen as an impersonal gift, the humble gift card is now a great way to help businesses stay afloat. Plus, it’ll give your loved ones something to look forward to.
While large chains need our support too, if you’re monitoring you’re spending during this time, it’s better spent with local businesses. Next time you’re craving takeaway, instead of ordering from a chain, pick up the phone and order from your local restaurant instead. All the profits stay with them, and they’ll appreciate your service now more than ever.