Multiple retail stores close due to COVID-19
IN AN ominous sign for business across the Clarence, several major retailers shut up shop indefinitely.
Mosaic Brands, which owns Rivers, Millers, Noni B, Autograph, Crossroads and Rockmans, among others, announced it would be closing its stores as of yesterday evening and stood down 6800 staff.
When The Daily Examiner contacted one local retailer affected by the announcement, staff had not yet been told they would be stood down.
The move will have significant ramifications for the Clarence, with at least eight stores being affected, seven of which are situated in Grafton Shoppingworld.
Carol Durrant, assistant manager at Rockmans on Prince St, said while the impact could be "disastrous" for the local economy in the long term, it was not unexpected.
She said there had been a significant decline in the number of shoppers during the past week.
"Well, we knew it had to come as both my daughters are in retail in Queensland and they had been shut for the last week - it had to come," she said.
Ms Durrant said the downturn in shoppers was a sign the community understood the new social distancing measures.
"I think people are realising it is non-essential and we haven't seen a soul all day," Ms Durrant said.
"They are really getting the message."
For anyone who ventured into Grafton Shoppingworld it was impossible not to notice the impact the pandemic was having at a local level.
The chairs have been removed from the food court with the recently announced ban on indoor eateries and there were few people out shopping.
Mosaic Brands said in their announcement the measures were temporary.
"All team members affected by the store closures will be stood down with access to leave entitlements while the group reviews government support schemes that may be available to them," they stated.
"The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government's social distancing recommendations."
A Grafton Shoppingworld spokesperson said the announcement would affect seven stores in the centre but noted the centre would remain fully open.
"The centre is constantly liaising with all relevant authorities and will follow all directives in regard to its operation to ensure a safe environment for all," the spokesperson said.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis had been speaking with businesses around the Clarence and said while the situation was "heartbreaking" he wanted to emphasise to businesses they were not alone.
"I have been letting them know they are not alone and there is assistance for them," he said.
"The government is there to provide support and we all need to work through this together. It is heartbreaking because these people are really doing it tough and I think the message is we do care about you and we just need to work through this together.
"We will get through this."