A Christmas message from our Chair

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What a year 2020 has been!

Who would have thought last Christmas, when much of Australia was under threat from bushfires, that in just a few short months the world would be crippled by COVID-19.   In March, as we first started feeling the effects of COVID 19, I don’t think any of us would have predicted the full impact it would have.  There is no doubt that our industry has been one of the lucky ones, with most members seeing a significant uplift in sales.  In my own store, I was thinking it was only going to last a few months. I could not have been more wrong.  For those of you who were unable to attend the HA hosted webinar last week, you will be interested to learn the HIA are predicting the next 12 months will continue to show strong sales growth.

A challenging year

Whilst we are happy to be experiencing an uplift in sales it has certainly come with its challenges, not the least of which is having enough stock on the shelves.   As a retailer, I would like to express my thanks to all our suppliers in dealing with the current challenges. The warehouses in Victoria are to be commended for managing to get stock out across Australia despite reduced staffing levels and increased demand.  Well done to you all.

A further challenge for wholesalers and retailers alike has been trying to navigate individual State Government restrictions, lockdowns, QR codes, social distancing, sneeze screens and so on, with many of these changes happening at short notice, and often changing daily.  And I know that the issue of keeping both staff and customers ‘safe’ while in store and in workplaces has been a huge worry for business owners and managers.

Difficult times

Our thoughts were with our members in Victoria who had a particularly difficult time as a result of their extended lockdown (over 100 days), and especially for those members who were also impacted by the devasting bushfires of last summer.

It would be no surprise to you that our focus at Hardware Australia this year has been about communication to our members.  We have worked hard to ensure we have been able to provide you with the information to help you keep abreast with State Government changes. Our goal has been to communicate with members on a weekly basis, and we hope that you have found the information we have disseminated worthwhile. I would particularly like to thank Natalie Scott for putting these emails together – she certainly had her hands full as each state has had their own COVID regulations and restrictions.

A year for advocacy 

Apart from keeping you up to date on state matters we have also worked hard advocating for our industry at State and federal levels.  In the early months of COVID we lobbied all state governments to ensure the hardware industry was considered an essential service.  Later, amongst other things,  we communicated with the Victorian Government when Daniel Andrews referred to “Bunnings” as the Hardware industry, and we spoke with the SA Government when they deemed hardware stores able to trade, but to ‘essential service trades’ only during the recent South Australian lockdown.

I hope you have found your HA membership of value during 2020, and we look forward to 2021 when I am hoping we can move more freely around Australia and we will start seeing each other face to face once again.

My wishes to you, your staff and families for a safe and happy Christmas, and good trading in the new year.

Sincerely,

Paul Stewart
Chair – Hardware Australia

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