Thousands Of Stores Shutter Their Doors Indefinitely, Leaving Countless Aussies Out Of Work
Thousands of iconic Australian retail stores have announced they will close their doors this week, causing mass job-losses as the industry faces an uncertain future.
Portmans announced the closure of its online and retail outlets via email on Thursday afternoon, explaining all retail and online stores would be closed "temporarily" but "until further notice" over safety concerns for customers and employees.
"On behalf of our entire team we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and to wish you and your family the best. We're all in this together, stay safe," the message read.
Premier Investments, which owns Portmans along with several other brands, will close all of its stores from 6pm on March 26.
These include General Pants, Peter Alexander, Smiggle, Just Jeans, Dotti and Jay Jays.
In a statement to investors, the company revealed more than 9,000 employees would be left out of work.
"Regrettably, this means all employees in Australia are to be stood down, except for a small number of employees required to perform limited essential work," the statement read.
"We have put in place special arrangements for employees to access accrued annual and long service leave entitlements to reduce the impact over this time. Globally these closures will impact over 9000 of our employees."
Chief executive Mark McInnes fobbed off the idea the company would wither away under the closure.
"Premier's brands and company are strong and with the support of all our employees we will overcome this global health pandemic and bounce back and thrive at the earliest opportunity."
The company will also be refusing to pay rent on its stores during this time, The Financial Review reported.
Lovisa has shuttered its doors too, and footwear group Accent, which owns Platypus, Athletes Foot and Hype will close is 522 retail stores from Friday, citing fears for the health of its staff.
Glassons has already closed its New Zealand retail outlets, and will close its Australian stores at 5pm Friday.
Most stores are suggesting their closures will be temporary, but none have been able to provide a definite date for re-opening.
The government has not yet ordered the closure of retail outlets, but food courts in shopping centres are only able to operate as takeaway, and stores are expected to comply with the one person per four square metre social distancing rule.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, Australians have been strongly encouraged to stay in their homes, and foot traffic in shopping centres has dropped significantly.
Citigroup analyst Bryan Raymond suggested traffic was down as much as 30 per cent in an interview with Financial Review, and said shutting up shop now would give brands the best chance at weathering the storm.