Main streets and shopping precincts are getting busier in the lead-up to Christmas.
Main streets and shopping precincts are getting busier in the lead-up to Christmas.

Small businesses suffering because of unfair COVID rules

SMALL retailers are being left behind in the quest for equal Christmas trade, says a Northern Rivers business industry leader.

Jane Laverty, the regional manager for Business NSW, says current COVID-19 restrictions should be relaxed to give all businesses the chance to make the most of the festive season spending.

Under the current rules, retailers must adhere to the one person per 4 sqm rule, unless they are a supermarket or shop that mostly sells food.

"With Christmas shopping in full swing and no community transmissions in NSW for some time, we need to give retailers a break in the lead up to Christmas," Ms Laverty said.

"It seems hard to understand that a cafe can have one person per 2 sqm now, but if you are a clothing retailer or bookshop, your ability to trade is significantly more limited.

"It goes without saying what a difficult year it has been for the retail sector, and here is an opportunity to provide them with some relief, so long as they operate in a COVID-safe way.

"Shopping centres and main streets are beginning to become packed again with just three weekends left before Christmas, so any help the NSW Government can give retailers must be done as a matter of urgency.

"This is particularly important in the Northern Rivers where holiday makers are beginning to head to our towns but are limited in their capacity to spend money.

"It's also the case that these retailers are competing with online giants like Amazon and eBay who have no shop fronts and therefore no restrictions on customers.

"Typically, this is the time that our small independent retail businesses make their money to see them through slower times of the year, so it is important they have every chance to attract that shopper as they pass.

"The NSW Government has done a great job in protecting the community and limiting the transmission of COVID-19, but it's time to level the playing field and make the rules the same for all businesses, irrespective of the particular industry."