Retail revenue was rebounding faster in Victoria than anywhere in Australia before lockdown restrictions were re-imposed last week, according to data analysis from retail productivity and intelligence platform, Vend.

Data from 13,962 retail stores using Vend reveals that Victorian retailers had experienced a 10.63% surge in revenue from May to June – higher than the 6.98% growth nationally.

By the end of June, retail revenue in Victoria had climbed to within 9.65% of February’s pre-lockdown levels, marginally behind the national average of 7%. However, with retailers facing a new six-week lockdown, Victoria’s retail industry will likely fall further behind as the rest of Australia continues its economic recovery.

Vend vice president for Asia Pacific, Gordana Redzovski told Retailbiz that the renewed lockdown has come as a shattering blow for independent retailers across Victoria, just as they were getting back to more consistent operating hours and seeing their revenue increase.

“In fact, data from Vend showed that, after the initial lockdown in March and April, retail revenue in Victoria had increased steadily until the end of June, when it was within touching distance of February’s pre-lockdown levels,” she said.

“If there’s one thing many retailers will have learnt about themselves over recent months, though, it’s that they possess the retail smarts, tech savviness and business resilience they need to tackle the ongoing challenge head-on.

“We love seeing the way many of our retailers have adapted their stock, customer engagement and business management to remain relevant, accessible to customers, and viable as they have grown through the various lockdown phases. So while that’s not to say the coming weeks won’t be testing, retailers should take heart from the fact that they’ve been able to overcome the challenge before.”

Redzovski went on to share some advice on how retailers can mitigate the impact of the lockdown.

“Retailers must communicate, focus on their ecommerce offering and consolidate ahead of restrictions lifting once again. There’s still confusion about what Victorians can and can’t do, so if you’re a retailer it’s imperative you communicate with your customers.

“Using email, social media, SMS or any other channels your customers frequent, prioritise honest, open and regular communication so they know exactly how, when and where they can engage with your business. After all, even if your physical store is closed, that’s not to say you can’t help customers fill their digital shopping carts instead.”

For retailers who have an online store, they should promote it far and wide, and prioritise the products customers might be in need of in lockdown, like loungewear or arts and crafts supplies, according to Redzovski.

“Finding ways to incentivise customers to place orders is important, so if you’re currently offering any discounts, make them prominent.

“While your store is closed, it’s an opportune time to make changes, implement processes or carry out the stock checks that always got shunted down your ‘to-do’ list when you were too busy. Getting your business in check now will help you to hit the ground running when it’s safe to reopen.

“Australia’s retail industry is built upon a broad, innovative and dynamic community of local retailers who add colour and diversity to high streets and town centres across not only Victoria, but nationwide. So, while that’s not to say the coming weeks won’t be challenging, lockdown will lift, customers will return and retail stores will reopen to provide delightful retail experiences once again.”