As we compile this article during the second half of August 2021, more bicycle shops in more states and territories face tougher restrictions than at any time since the start of Covid restrictions in Australia 18 months ago.
Here is a brief summary, focusing only on the restrictions specifically related to the bicycle industry. In all of these states and territories, bicycle shops have had to close their doors to customers wanting to shop in-store:
Bicycle sales have not been considered essential retail.
Bicycle repair can only be done on bicycles utilised by essential workers.
Bicycle repair is considered an essential service.
NSW – Sydney and Regional
Bicycle stores can sell using click and collect.
Bicycle repairs are permitted.
Victoria – Melbourne
All workers that attend a workplace must obtain a government permit to go to work.
Bicycle stores can sell using click and collect.
Bicycle repairs are permitted – only for essential repair.
Victoria – Regional
After staying free of Melbourne’s restrictions for a couple of weeks, all of regional Victoria also went into lockdown from 1pm Saturday 21st August. Broadly speaking the restrictions are the same as metro Melbourne.
What Does the Future Hold?
This is the critical question to which every business owner, including bicycle retailers, would like a definitive answer.
But of course, no one can give that answer. The broad consensus of Australia’s medical experts is that, due to the Delta variant being so much more contagious, the key to ending lockdowns is reaching a certain percentage of vaccinations across the entire population.
Exactly what that percentage is, and what restrictions will be reduced by how much at each milestone is currently both uncertain and being hotly debated by elected officials and the media.
But current projections see us reaching 70% of the 16 years and over population being fully vaccinated by 2nd November and 80% of the 16+ population by 20th November.
Hopefully, more vaccines can be secured, vaccination rates continue to accelerate, as they have been in recent weeks and these dates move forward.
However, it’s quite possible that many bike shops in the locked-down states and territories might not be opening their doors for two to three more months from the time of writing this (late August 2021).
Meanwhile, bike stores in Queensland, WA, SA and Tasmania were still happily trading without restrictions, but knowing they’re only one local case away from a snap lockdown.
Clearly, the next few months will be a super-stressful time for everyone in our industry and of course the entire nation.
10 Tips to Help You Through Lockdown
- There’s never been a better time to upgrade and update your website. Even if you don’t do direct online sales, you can still promote your click and collect sales plus workshop repairs and keep your store front of mind.
- If customers can no longer walk through your store, make sure you have at least good interior store photos included on your website, or better still a virtual tour or videos.
- Proactively keep in touch with your customer base through social media and e-newsletters. Let them know exactly what services you can still offer.
- Make sure you take full advantage of whatever local, state and federal government concessions and funding is available. As a business, you’re paying multiple forms of taxation year in year out, so this is even more reason to be proactive now.
- BIA (Bicycle Industries Australia) is publishing updates of Covid restrictions in specific relation to how they impact bicycle retailers in each state. Make sure you’re on their mailing list for the latest information.
- If you rent your store, talk with your landlord about a concession during lockdown. Although they’re currently not legally obliged to give you a break, many will do so.
- Stay positive, but budget for a worst case scenario. Proactively try to anticipate every implication if your store has to lock down for three months. In particular, do a cashflow projection. If future cashflow might become issue, talk to your bank before it does.
- Although it’s not an ideal way of doing business in the long term, the Australian Tax Office is effectively an efficient short term lender. You can access this by asking for a payment plan on most outstanding or upcoming tax bills. Their current interest rate is approximately 7%. That’s certainly much higher than property secured lending but way less than most credit cards.
- Although wholesalers don’t like being used as a bank, hopefully you’ve reduced your accounts payable during the boom months and they might extend your credit terms during lockdown, provided they’re confident in your ability and track record of repayment.
- Whenever you get knocked down, don’t stay down! Move forward as you get back on your feet. Now might be a good time to do some store renovations, new layout or other upgrades that are easier to do while there are no customers inside.
Join the Conversation
What are you doing to cope with lockdowns or the possibility of lockdown?
What do you think should or will happen next?