CAB Audited Glenvale Publications and Australian Hardware Journal are pleased to provide the articles contained in this publication to keep its subscribers up to date on issues which may be relevant to their businesses. This publication is supplied strictly on the condition that Glenvale Publications and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants are not responsible for any deficiency, error, omission or mistake contained in this publication, and Glenvale Publications and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants hereby expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever nature to any person who may rely on the contents of this publication in whole or part. Published by GLENVALE PUBLICATIONS A.B.N. 31 218 591 688 11 Rushdale Street, Knoxfield Victoria 3180 Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Editor: Christine Bannister Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Email: Journalists: David Burton John Power Jamie Della Hartley Henderson Online Communications & Production: Justin Carroll Email: ADVERTISING Harry Rabiee Email: Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Mobile: 0403 000 444 ACCOUNTS Melissa Graydon Email: SUBSCRIPTIONS Melissa Graydon $93.00 – 12 issues ART AND PRODUCTION Justin Carroll PRINTING Southern Impact Pty Ltd 181 Forster Rd, Mount Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: (03) 8796 7000 W hile the AHJ team has made a con- scious effort to continually deliver updated news this year - includ- ing the impact of the on-going pandemic on the hardware industry - we have also tried not to over-load our publication with COVID negativity, as it already floods our mainstream media daily. In saying this, if you are living and work- ing in a locked down state, particularly in Melbourne ( AHJ ’s base) and Sydney, it is a long, hard road and we all look to the other states with much jealously and envy during this difficult time. The normality of 2019 is just a distant memory, but I do remember independent retail- ers having their own set of challenges before the pandemic arrived on Australia’s shores. For some retailers, they were simply running their businesses week-to-week due to the on-going threat of big-box competition, or due to the impact of drought for rural retailers, alongside a lack of support from a handful of suppliers. Independents were also fearful of being at the mercy of the building industry, with the reduc- tion in the value of high-rise apartments slowing the industry throughout this time. It is a blessing in disguise that independents had no idea what was ahead of them pre- COVID. I do not think any of us would have believed the turn of events to come. This is not to say the pandemic has delivered some positives to the industry – it certainly has with the increasing popularity of DIY products and increased disposable income due to lack of funds spent on travel and dining. These unu- sual circumstances have boosted store sales to unimaginable numbers. On the other hand, independents have also paid the price of these enormous sales - forced to pivot their businesses in ways they never thought possible just 18 months ago. Stores, particularly throughout Victoria and New South Wales, have had to operate com- pletely through ‘Click & Collect’ for non-trade sales, with the need for on-line or phone orders pushing retailers to innovate their on-line offer extensively, as well as swiftly train staff so they could effectively cope with the new demands of running a store throughout a pandemic. The need to employ the appropriate staff to assist with the changing face of business- es throughout COVID has also increased pressure on retailers, as they scrambled to secure stock required by DIYers who sud- denly wanted to plant veggie gardens or paint every inch of their homes - stripping stores of supply. As the pandemic drags on (and on and on) independents are also now faced with the new threat of potentially being unable to supply tradespeople and builders with tools and mate- rials readily sourced from overseas. Retailers can now only rely on a series of broken prom- ises from shipping companies and overseas suppliers when sourcing these products. Independents are now even more stressed as their frustrated builder customers attempt to source timber from depleting supplies, with no end in sight of when supply will be restored. They also then have to explain to customers why prices are sky-rocketing, another result of the pandemic that is com- pletely out of their control. When you think about it, independents have achieved nothing short of a miracle during these unprecedented times. Not only have they ensured their businesses have remained healthy through some of the harsh- est lockdowns in the world, they have also managed to reassure both their customers and suppliers that they are here to stay due to their reliability and resilience throughout the pandemic. So please, as independents be proud of how you have achieved the unachievable. For pushing through and supporting your customers with strength, when - no doubt - you were feeling just as much, if not the most stress as a result of the uncertainty. As I endure Melbourne’s sixth lockdown, it is businesses like yours that give me hope there is still some sort of normality in the community and my local hardware store remains a stoic beacon of normality as we adjust to this new way of living. Christine Bannister Editor 6 | AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2021