Plea for hardware independents to deemed ‘essential’ during COVID-19

24/03/2020

Following the New South Wales and Victorian Government’s decision to close all non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, Hardware Australia recently wrote to all Victorian and New South Wales State Ministers, in a joint submission with TABMA Australia, to ensure hardware stores and timber businesses are classified as ‘essential’ businesses during the current trading restrictions.

In the official letter, Timber & Building Materials Association (Aust) Chief Executive Officer, David Little and Hardware Australia Executive Officer, Alicia Oelkers asked State and Federal Governments to consider several factors when determining hardware retailers as essential service including:

  • Many independent hardware stores located in regional areas supply local communities with essential items including face masks, respirators, isopropyl alcohol and methylated spirts, toilet paper, and LPG (which is essential for many regional customers not on mains gas supplies), as well as general cleaning and disinfecting products including gloves.
  • Stores with garden centres provide a means for residents to grow their own food through the sale of seeds and seedlings, along with associated plant care products such as composts, fertilisers, pots and so on.
  • Local hardware stores also provide the communities with essential needs for livestock and pets including feed, health products, bedding and safety items.
  • Hardware stores also provide essential products to local communities which ensure local tradies, homeowners and handymen can keep the towns lights, taps and toilets operating.
  • Many hardware independent also deliver trade supplies to building sites. Should hardware stores suspend trading, this would in turn effectively shut down building and repair work in the community as tradespeople will be unable to source materials to continue their work. The flow on for jobs in that community will be devastating, and the recent Government stimulus packages supporting apprentices will be for nothing.
  • Many hardware stores located close to communities devastated by the January bush fires, are currently supplying items to bushfire ravaged areas across Australia. Closing hardware stores would significantly slow down the bushfire recovery in many regions across Australia, and especially damage those communities attempting to rebuild in those areas completely devastated by fire.
  • Lastly, there is worldwide precedent in naming hardware as an essential service, with America and the UK most recently making that determination.

Hardware Australia concluded the letter by pleading to Federal and State Governments to consider its request to ensure hardware retailers are an essential service, so that they may continue to support communities throughout this time.