Retail to open, outdoor masks to go and travel to Sydney allowed under major changes to ACT COVID-19 roadmap

Retail will reopen by the end of the week and travel will be permitted in all of New South Wales at the end of the month, under a raft of new changes to the ACT’s roadmap announced today. 

The territory hit 80 per cent double-dose vaccination yesterday, prompting the ACT government to bring forward freedoms for Canberrans and local business owners.

“Reaching the 80 per cent milestone is a significant achievement,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“Canberrans should be really proud of how our community has worked together and given us the best opportunity to manage the expected increase in cases as the nation starts to reopen.

“We are now well on our way to having close to 99 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November.”

The major changes will also see capacity limits increased for venues and major events, outdoor masks scrapped and food courts to reopen earlier than planned.

A closed cafe with chairs stacked on the tables.
Non-essential retail will reopen its doors from Friday, under major announcements to the ACT’s roadmap announced today. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Non-essential retail returns

Over the weekend, local businesses complained that they were losing local customers across the border to New South Wales, where retail settings were more lenient. 

Today, Mr Barr said non-essential retailers in the ACT could open their doors to customers from Friday, October 22. 

“As a result of reaching this [80 per cent double-dose vaccination], the ACT Government is in a position to bring forward the recommencement of non-essential retail to 11:59pm on Thursday 21, under a 1 person per 4 square metres (1 per 4 sqm) rule,” Mr Barr said.

Mr Barr said these restrictions would be eased further by the end of the month. 

“With high vaccination rates and stable average case numbers over the last couple of weeks, the government will further ease restrictions from 29 October,” he said.

“This includes the relaxation of capacity limits across a number of different industries, including hospitality and major events.

“From 29 October, food courts in the ACT will also be able to reopen under a 1 per 4 sqm model.”

Bondi beach during covid lockdown AAP Dan Himbrechts
ACT residents will be permitted to travel to Greater Sydney from November 1, under changes to the ACT’s roadmap announced today. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Canberrans to visit Sydney at end of month

Today’s changes also permit Canberrans to travel to Greater Sydney from November 1 without the need to quarantine when they return, ending confusion over ongoing border arrangements between the two jurisdictions.

“Subject to the public health risk at the time, the ACT will remove the COVID-Affected Area declaration across NSW from 1 November,” Mr Barr said.

“This aligns with the decision from the NSW Government to allow travel from Greater Sydney into their regional areas from 1 November.”

A view across the water of the Sydney Opera House on the left, with the city central business district on the right.
The ACT government will still be able to declare high-risk LGAs in NSW as COVID-affected areas if an outbreak occurs.(ABC/Unsplash: Dan Freeman)

Mr Barr said health authorities will assess individual local government areas (LGAs) within the state if they pose a significant risk to public health. 

“Similar to the arrangements the ACT had in place throughout most of this year, the ACT will move to an individual LGA assessment of public health risk from 1 November,” Mr Barr said.

“This will allow the ACT Chief Health Officer to declare high-risk LGAs as COVID-affected areas with relevant stay at home or quarantine requirements, should a hotspot emerge.”

However, ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said it was unlikely travel restrictions between the ACT and Victoria would change before November 1. 

“We’re watching Victoria very closely, they are in a completely different position to NSW,” Dr Coleman said.

“I don’t think the COVID-affected declaration will be removed before November 1, but we are also working very closely with NSW, recognising that a block approach in how we deal with Victoria is preferred as well.”

Outdoor mask wearing to go, hotel quarantine no longer required

Mr Barr also announced that masks would no longer be required outdoors from October 29, but would remain mandatory indoors to “help slow the spread of the virus”.

Various people walk through Canberra wearing facemasks
ACT residents will not be required to wear a mask outdoors from October 29.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

He also said the territory would “align” with NSW’s quarantine arrangements for international arrivals from November 1, ditching mandatory hotel quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers.

In the weeks to come, Mr Barr said the focus would shift to completing second dose vaccinations.

“Our priority over the next few weeks will be to continue providing second dose vaccinations to those 68,500 mostly younger Canberrans,” Mr Barr said.

“Ensuring these Canberrans are fully vaccinated before moving to baseline public health and safety numbers will be critical to a successful reopening of our local economy.”

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Breaking News: “A celebration of the human spirit” —The Travel Retail Superstars Awards Winners revealed

 INTERNATIONAL. The Travel Retail Superstars Awards, the first edition of an annual awards for travel retail employees across airport, airline, downtown store and cruise sectors, has reached its crescendo.

The Moodie Davitt Report today named the inaugural winners of the TR Superstars Awards, which have placed an overdue spotlight on those frontline and behind the scenes heroes and heroines who have helped kept our industry going throughout the most profound and sustained crisis it has ever faced.

We asked employers to submit a written entry for each individual or team, addressing the impact made by the person or department through their actions, and how far they reached; how they measured success in terms of service or helped improve the business; and what made a particular staff member or team stand out.

Categories included Star Team, Star Individual, Star Story (Team or Individual), Innovation (Team or Individual) and Humanity, Leadership & Inspiration. Nominations were invited by region and by department: Shop Floor — Customer Facing, Logistics Warehouse, Back Office (Marketing, IT, Commercial and Procurement) to cover as broad a spectrum of staff as possible.

The announcement was made at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo on the final day of the pioneering all-digital event.

The awards, hosted by Martin Moodie, were judged by Spark Group of Companies CEO & Founder Heidi Van Roon and Flash global Logistics Global Director of People & Culture Marcus Griffin.

Martin Moodie, Spark Group of Companies CEO & Founder Heidi Van Roon and Flash global Logistics Global Director of People & Culture Marcus Griffin announced the winners of the inaugural TR Superstars awards

Moodie said, “All the nominees and their stories are exceptional, moving, exemplary. The number of entries we received was humbling and inspiring, a true celebration of the human touch that sets this industry apart.”

“These awards are so timely and appropriate,” added Van Roon. “I’m a big supporter of adding the human element into everything we do and reading these submissions have really inspired me thanks to the amazing commitment, creativity and resourcefulness of these individuals who have gone above and beyond”

Griffin added, “Thank you for The Moodie Davitt Report for this fabulous initiative and a huge shoutout to all the nominees and the folks who nominated them. The travel retail industry is awake, it’s alive and it’s recovering and if you read these wonderful stories of colleagues giving back – it will certainly inspire you.”

Here are the winners of this inaugural awards that celebrates the most important and very human element of our industry.


Star Team Americas: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Andrezza Hotta, Head Buyer Accessories, Shopping China &

Carol Escobar, Import Executive, Shopping China, Shopping China’s Border Shop, Paraguay

Nominated by Victorinox

“(Right) Carol and (left) Andrezza’s actions have shown that consumers and sales staff come first. After going through what was the most challenging times in their professional careers, they always put the consumer and the sales staff first in every initiative discussed between themselves and Victorinox.” — Victorinox

Star Team Americas: Logistics / Warehouse

The Team at WTDC

Nominated by Sean Gazitua, President & CEO, WTDC

“The company changed gears to begin handling medical equipment,medical supplies, and renewable energy equipment during the pandemic. Masks, COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, and other equipment surged into the U.S. as traditional transportation options took a backseat to dedicated trucks and chartered planes.” — Sean Gazitua

Star Team Americas: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Paradies Lagardère Marketing Team – MORE Campaign

Nominated by Paradies Lagardère

Star Team Europe: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Fraser Meldrum Manager, Luggage Point, Glasgow Airport

Julie Fenwick Business Manager, Luggage Point, Glasgow Airport

Nominated by Luggage Point

“Day in, day out from Fraser and Julie, despite the restrictions enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have sought to give the highest level of service to our customers using every means at their disposal, often thinking outside the box to make things happen.” — Luggage Point

Star Team Europe: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

ARI Sales & Marketing Team, The TasteHouse, The Loop Dublin, Airport

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“Through close partnership and collaboration, both ARI and Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail have mutually benefited in numerous ways. Neither party could have foreseen the obstacles that would face the team, the industry and indeed the wider global impact.” — Pernod Ricard

Star Team Asia Pacific Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Team at ARI Auckland (The Loop Duty Free), Auckland Airport

Nominated by ARI Auckland

Star Team Middle East & Africa: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

DXB Dubai Duty Free Brand Ambassadors Team for Pernod Ricard, DXB

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“For those 18 months, the group of dedicated DDF brand ambassadors demonstrated an incredible level of discipline & grit, wresting control of this unprecedented situation and transforming it to an opportunity for self-improvement. We stand humbly on the shoulders of these giants; as such we believe we owe them our thanks and support.” — Pernod Ricard

Star Team Middle East & Africa: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Operations and Human Resources Team

Nominated by Dubai Duty Free

“The Ops and HR Teams in particular were at the centre of DDF’s rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis and have played a central role in keeping the workforce safe, engaged, productive and resilient…by putting people first, creating a safe environment and enabling new ways of operating.” — Dubai Duty Free


Star Individual Americas: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Alejandro Cordella, Store Sales Executive Watch & Accessories at Dufry – Ezeiza International Airport, Buenos Aires

Nominated by Victorinox

“Alejandro is a true brand ambassador and a passionate, experienced watch salesperson. His knowledge of the industry, brand and overall generosity of sharing his knowledge with everyone makes him a true star individual.” — Victorinox

Star Individual Americas: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Marie-Lise Manoukian, Head of Finance, Aer Rianta North America

Nominated by Aer Rianta North America

“Marie-Lise showed what a true leader she is and hired a phenomenal new team, without being able to meet any of them in person. With this new team she was able to keep the company cash flow positive even though all the stores were closed and we had no revenue to speak of for four months.” — ARI North America

Star Individual Asia Pacific: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Kenny Wong, Brand Consultant, Taoyuan Airport

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“Kenny Wong deserves this award for bringing to life the convivial cocktail experience in store and driving team morale, building excitement with travellers and building consumer confidence within the store environment, and providing shop floor insight to the team when airside access was restricted.” – Pernod Ricard

Star Individual Asia Pacific: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Sarah O’Donnell, HR Specialist, ARI Auckland (The Loop Duty Free)

Nominated by ARI Auckland

“Her compassion, commitment, and loyalty reach every person in our business. Her strength, initiative, and support through the darkest days of our industry has been a guiding light to many…I often find people unknowingly turn to Sarah for her guidance and input.” — Stephen Mascarenhas, ARI Auckland

Star Individual Europe – Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Rosalie Kirkman, In-store Consultant, William Grant & Sons GTR, London Heathrow

Nominated by William Grant and Sons

“Rosalie Kirkman deserves the award for her dedication and professionalism to give customers the best possible service. Her energy and effort are incredible for a woman who continues to push the boundaries and continues to lead by example after 40 years delighting customers at LHR.” — William Grant and Sons

Star Individual Europe: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Collette Heffer, Customer Service Team Leader, 3Sixty UK

Nominated by 3Sixty Duty Free & More

“Collette is the only team member who has worked full time since April 2020 to now, and without her commitment to the business we would not have been able to generate the sales we have.” — 3Sixty Duty Free & More

Star Individual Middle East & Africa: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Ali Attia Ali El Sayed, Sales Assistant – Retail, DDF

Nominated by Dubai Duty Free

“Ali is one of DDF’s finest employees with an extraordinary customer service skill. His polite and friendly nature makes it easy for customers to approach him. One would always see him handing over shopping baskets, looking for customers that require assistance, answering customers queries and helping them pack their goods when required. His service has always been nothing less than exemplary.” — Dubai Duty Free

Star Individual Middle East & Africa: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Wendy Valenzuela Rivera, Project Manager, QDF

Nominated by Qatar Duty Free

“Wendy has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the core duty free stores at HIA and in the opening of numerous new boutiques and F&B outlets across an extremely challenging backdrop” — Thabet Musleh


Star Story Americas: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Crystal Channel, Retail Zone Manager, Portland International Airport

Nominated by Paradies Lagardère

“We’re so proud of the way Crystal saw a passenger in need and exceeded expectations for service, kindness, and care. Crystal lives and breathes customer service excellence, which goes well beyond the boundaries of our airport stores and restaurants and strives to positively impact the lives of passengers every day.” — Paradies Lagardère

Star Story Americas: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Laura Siener, Regional Retail Operations VP, 3Sixty Duty Free & More

Nominated by 3Sixty Duty Free & More

“Every week, every month, Laura has found a way of recognising performance, backing up corporate programs like our Excellence Awards and Quarterly Recognitions, and is always saying that we need to find a way of recognising our teams out there, that they have gone through a lot – not thinking about herself and her own personal health battle.” — 3Sixty Duty Free & More

Star Story Asia Pacific: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Discover Singapore Team, Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore

Star Story Asia Pacific – Shopfloor (Lagardere Travel Retail Singapore Pte Ltd – Discover Singapore).mp4 from Henry Lim on Vimeo.

Star Story Asia Pacific: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Back-Office & Merchandising Team, Maldives

Nominated by Airports Company

Star Story Middle East & Africa: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Walid Rawass and Ziad Korjieh, Brand Ambassadors Phoenicia, Beirut Duty Free, Aer Rianta Pheonicia, Lebanon

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“The BA’s commitment to sell during these trying times does expose the true resilience of Walid and Ziad. They have taken this time to maximise sales to the full potential knowing full well passengers have been few and far between. A discovery they share during these trying times is that challenges make us stronger and maybe even achieve better.” — Pernod Ricard


Innovation Asia Pacific: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

Melanie Rutherford, Head of Operations,  ARI Auckland Ltd  (The Loop Duty Free)

Nominated by ARI Auckland

“When faced with the choice to either accept or fight the challenges thrown at ARI Auckland in the last 12 months, Mel has always chosen to fight. She has fought for the jobs of 240 employees and for a business that she has helped to charter through some particularly rough seas…she is an inspiration to all around her.” — ARI Auckland

Innovation Europe: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

All EMEA: Dufry GCM Marketing Team

  • Georgie Rickard – Senior Marketing Dufry EMEA & Global Co-ordination
  • Sophia Sergides – Market Activation Manager – UK
  • Anielka Scandoval – Market Activation Manager – Americas
  • Margarita Pchelkina – Market Manager – Russia
  • Regina Bao – Market Activation Manager – Asia
  • Bronwen Goodbar – Digital Manager

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“Throughout lockdown, the team consistently led a holistically resilient ‘rebellion’ against restrictions by providing a compelling 360 consumer experience both online and via relevant cross category activation in a safe, reassuring way to maintain passenger confidence in duty free. The collaboration and partnership spirit with the Dufry Global team has re-inspired the channel.” — Pernod Ricard

Innovation Middle East & Africa: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

IT Team (Home Delivery Specials), Dubai Duty Free

Nominated by Dubai Duty Free

“The Home Delivery channel has earned DDF a new segment of happy customers as well as giving the experience and confidence needed to set up and operate a totally new revenue stream as an airport retailer. Above all, it has been a huge team effort…and has kept hundreds of its staff busy at work during the darker days of the pandemic.”


Logistics / Warehouse

Sean Gazitua, President & CEO, WTDC

Nominated by WTDC

“Sean brings tremendous positive energy and industry knowledge to the workplace and has demonstrated exceptional leadership over the last 18 months as he navigated the company’s direction in these uncertain times.” — WTDC

Humanity, Leadership & Inspiration Americas: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

Gregg Paradies, President & CEO, Paradies Lagardère

Nominated by Paradies Lagardère

“Without exception, Gregg Paradies puts the organisation ahead of any personal interest or goal and emerged as a beacon of hope, inspiration, and trust.” — Paradies Lagardère

Humanity, Leadership & Inspiration Asia Pacific: Shop Floor – Customer Facing

CWI & Darin Brand Consultants, Jeju International Airport Korea

Nominated by Pernod Ricard

“When a colleague was threatened with Covid-19 and having to self-isolate for weeks, the team’s agility, humanity & leadership shone through. Their teamwork exceeded any expectation as two competing agencies supported one another and achieved maximised sales and improved efficiency, showing the importance of humanity and how a new team spirit can shine through for a business.” — Pernod Ricard

Humanity, Leadership & Inspiration Asia Pacific: Back Office – Marketing, HR, IT, Commercial, Procurement

All Teams, Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore

Nominated by Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore

“In such times of crisis, we stepped up as a team on social activism towards our airport community and beyond. The numerous efforts by our team have allowed us to demonstrate our Group’s values and our team’s commitment towards our social responsibilities in the pandemic. We hope these efforts will inspire learning, optimism, activism and wellness amongst our employees, communities and beyond.” — Lagardère Travel Retail Singapore

Humanity, Leadership & Inspiration Asia Pacific – Special Judges Award

Rakhita Jayawardena, President of King Power Traveler (KPT)

Nominated by King Power Traveler

“The livelihood of the company and entire staff was at stake, yet Rakhita was undaunted and rallied all the staff spread across our 12 operating locations across Asia with his bold and resounding words, ‘We will survive and we will continue.’” — King Power Traveler

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Gauge on retail sales flat

U.S. retail sales stalled in April after a sharp advance in March when pandemic-relief checks provided millions of Americans with increased spending power.

The value of overall retail purchases was essentially unchanged last month after an upwardly revised 10.7% gain in March that was the second-largest in records back to 1992, Commerce Department figures showed Friday.

The total value of retail sales was a record $619.9 billion in April.

While consumers may begin to shift more of their spending to services such as entertainment and travel as pandemic fears dissipate, elevated savings supported by fiscal stimulus should help underpin retail demand.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage »]

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social-distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

Eight of 13 retail categories registered declines in April sales, with the largest percentage decrease at clothing stores, which fell 5.1% after a 22.7% surge in March.

Sales at non-store retailers, which include e-commerce, fell 0.6% in April. General merchandise store sales fell 4.9% and the value of purchases at sporting goods outlets dropped 3.6%.

The value of restaurant receipts rose 3% after a 13.5% March gain as states across the country eased restrictions on indoor dining capacity.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers climbed 2.9% in April, even as automakers faced production constraints due to the global semiconductor shortage.

So-called control group sales, which exclude more volatile categories including food services, car dealers and gasoline stations, dropped 1.5% in April after an upwardly revised 7.6% jump in March.

The pandemic substantially reshaped consumer behavior. Grocery store spending surged during the pandemic while restaurant revenue dropped. Apparel sales plunged as Americans canceled events, and spending on outdoor activities and home improvements soared. As vaccinations have picked up and warmer weather has taken hold, the retail industry has been waiting to see if spending will revert to its prepandemic levels.

The Easton Town Center, a popular open-air shopping center in Ohio, has been getting “close” to 2019 levels of foot traffic, though bad weather in April dampened some of its momentum, said Jennifer Peterson, the center’s chief executive. She said the center was planning to create summer attractions like a “prosecco plaza” and resuming events like concerts and movie nights with new adjustments like social distancing and masks.

“We’re thinking of this summer as kind of a relaunch of Easton, knowing that the pandemic has really put people’s mindsets in a different place,” Peterson said. “We want to bring them back with joyful activities.”

Retailers will continue to walk a tightrope in the coming months as they work to attract shoppers while creating a safe environment. The latest wrinkle came Thursday with the CDC’s new guidance for masks, saying that it is safe for fully vaccinated people to remove face coverings in most indoor settings.

Retailers, from individual chains to shopping centers, are still reviewing that guidance and figuring out what it could mean for employees and customers. The CDC’s declaration does not override mask orders from states, counties or cities. The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents thousands of grocery store workers, called the guidance “confusing” and said it failed to consider employees who regularly interact with unvaccinated, unmasked customers.

Information for this article was contributed by Olivia Rockeman of Bloomberg News (WPNS), by Joseph Pisani of The Associated Press and by Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times.

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Retail sales were flat in April as stimulus spending waned

NEW YORK (AP) — Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in April after soaring in March, when many Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks that boosted spending.

The report Friday from the U.S. Commerce Department was worse than the 0.8% rise Wall Street analysts had expected. But it wasn’t all bad: March’s number was revised upwards to 10.7%. Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus checks that month, helping retail sales soar.

The question is whether consumers will continue to spend without stimulus checks. “The April retail sales tip the odds toward slower sales in the coming months,” said analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors.

Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low. And consumer confidence hit its highest level last month since the pandemic began.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask or social distance outdoors and in most indoor settings, which may get more people to travel, eat out or shop.

Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending, but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

The report on Friday suggests Americans were heading out last month to eat instead of shop. Sales at restaurants and bars rose 3%. But sales fell at stores that sell clothing, sporting goods and furniture.

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Closure of in-store travel agencies marks turning point in travel retail

Lack of revenue and high demand for refunds has taken its toll on many traditional travel agencies

  • High fixed costs including high street rents would have depleted cash reserves for in-store agents
  • Store closures were considered essential for many to simply stay afloat
  • More shop closures are likely to follow as the world enters the so-called ‘new normal’

COVID-19 has accelerated the digitization of the travel agent model, creating more shop closures as in-store agencies switch operations online. This is a necessary adaptation to changing consumer preferences.

The long-term survival of in-store travel agencies has been discussed for several years due to the rising popularity of online bookings. Success in 2021 will largely depend on good levels of cash-flow, an area in which online travel agents (OTAs) continue to be a step ahead of traditional brick and mortar style agencies, thanks to their asset light business models.

Only 17% of global respondents in the industry’s Q3 2019 consumer survey declared they booked with an in-store travel agent, showing that prior to COVID-19, booking in-store was already decreasing in popularity. A more recent survey in December 2020 found that 47% of global respondents would buy more products online rather than visiting a store and 60% would do banking transactions online in the ‘new normal’.

Lack of revenue and high demand for refunds has taken its toll on many traditional travel agencies. High fixed costs including high street rents would have depleted cash reserves further for in-store agents in comparison to OTAs. Store closures were considered essential for many to simply stay afloat during 2020 and some have been made permanent.

STA Travel, a long-haul flight specialist with more than 50 shops in the UK, had to cease trading in August 2020 as costs were racking up at a time when there was little income. Flight Centre closed 421 out of 740 of its stores during COVID-19, while Hays Travel has declared it expects to operate a ‘hybrid’ return to retail with some shops reopening and others to remain closed in relation to the UK Government’s roadmap. Many staff have declared they are happy to work from home, which may see more permanent shop closures as a result. Tour operator TUI is the most recent to announce it plans to close a further 48 branches in 2021. This, in addition to the 166 TUI shops that were shut in 2020, leaves the company with around 314 branches as it aims to digitize its operations.

It now boils down to survival of the fittest. The rollout of vaccinations worldwide, coupled with the supposed release of digital vaccine passports, has offered a beacon of hope for the travel sector. However, the news of new variants of COVID-19, coupled with ongoing lockdowns across Europe, suggests 2021 will still be a year that is far from normal.

Traditional in-store travel agencies have been increasingly under pressure to develop their online directories to remain competitive within the global marketplace. The lower the fixed costs for travel agencies, the greater flexibility they will have in servicing the future travel space. Therefore, more shop closures are likely to follow as we enter the so-called ‘new normal’.

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PODCAST – ReThink: Travel Retail

At the beginning of 2020 the travel retail distribution channel represented one-third of revenues for some traditional beauty brands.

The global pandemic exposed the beauty industries over-reliance on this sector that had been a ‘growth winner’ for years. 

With many traditional retailers doors still shut what should/could the post-pandemic travel retail experience look like? 

This months panel 

Nicole Fall CEO & Founder at  Asian Consumer Intelligence

Laura Saunter Senior Retail analyst at Global trends agency WGSN

Ashley Dudarenok Founder of ChoZan and Alarice

Discuss how to ReThink -Travel Retail 

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MCO 2.0 has shuttered two-thirds of small businesses in Malaysia, and that’s just tip of iceberg, retail group warns | Malaysia

MRCA said the current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will lead to more business closures and loss of employment. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
MRCA said the current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will lead to more business closures and loss of employment. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 ― Close to a third of small retail businesses have “collapsed” in the three weeks since the government enforced a second round of the movement control order (MCO) with more likely to fold if curbs are prolonged, the Malaysian Retail Chain Association said.

“The MCO extension is expected to depress the overall outlook for the retail industry which has been struggling since MCO 1.0 was implemented,” its president Shirley Tay told Malay Mail, referring to the first lockdown that lasted nearly a quarter of last year.

“The current uncertainty as a result of the MCO will unfortunately lead to more business closures and loss of employment,” she added.

“While we do not have any hard statistics, it is estimated that more than 50-70 per cent of small businesses have collapsed throughout this MCO period.”

Over 30 industry representatives had voiced their opposition to the MCO extension on Tuesday in a rare show of unity that underpins dipping confidence in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis within the business community.

Some of the most influential economic sectors have rallied behind a drive dubbed “Industries Unite” to condemn the partial lockdown extension, calling the move a death knell for more businesses and warned of soaring unemployment.

MRCA was among the 37 signatories of the statement that called for an urgent medium-term plan to stem the pandemic and keep the nearly decimated economy running.

Businesses have suggested targeted restrictions only for high-risk areas and stricter enforcement, citing the continued surge in daily Covid-19 cases as proof that blanket curbs are ineffective.

“Any decision on business operation hours and inter-district travel should ideally be based on assessment of sound facts and figures in relation to the risk of infectivity in any specific location and/or the nature of the business,” Tay said.

“If the risk outweighs the benefits in high-risk areas, it may be justified to restrict the business hours and movement of people.”

Industries have joined public health and policy experts in calling for mass testing and more resources invested in contact tracing as daily cases continue to soar above 3,000.

They said the government had squandered the chance to preempt the third wave by refusing to test asymptomatic cases and blamed the runaway number of infections on lax enforcement and inconsistent policies.

“It is equally important that the government adopts aggressive contact-tracing and isolation measures within a fixed time frame for that specific location,” Tay said.

“Although there will be a temporary business or travel disruption within such an area, such a move will ensure that all positive Covid-19 cases can be identified in the most efficient and effective manner,” she added.

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Leading broker tips Super Retail (ASX:SUL) share price to rocket higher

The Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL) share price has been a strong performer over the last six months.

During this period, the retail conglomerate’s shares have charged an impressive 42% higher.

Can the Super Retail share price go even higher?

If you missed out on the stellar gains made by the Super Retail share price over the last six months, don’t worry. This is because one leading broker believes they can go a lot higher from here.

In response to its impressive trading update earlier this week, Goldman Sachs has reiterated its buy rating and lifted the price target on Super Retail’s shares to $14.80.

Based on the current Super Retail share price, this price target implies potential upside of 29% for its shares over the next 12 months. This potential return increases to almost 36% when you include the generous dividends the broker is expecting the company to pay.

Goldman Sachs has forecast a fully franked dividend of 78 cents per share in FY 2021. This equates to a 6.8% dividend yield at present.

Why is Goldman Sachs bullish on Super Retail?

The broker believes Super Retail is perfectly positioned to benefit from the current trading environment. It explained:

“SUL has continued to position itself extremely well to capture the unique trading environment we have seen over much of 2020, and in particular has made the most of the reopening of the Australian economy as households have increasingly shifted to outdoor activities and road travel over the summer period.”

“As we have noted before, while much of the consumer spending patterns seen over 2020 are unlikely to be sustained, we expect the international travel restrictions associated with the pandemic to provide a medium-term tailwind to SUL. Furthermore, the weakness experienced by SUL during the post bushfire period in 2H20 is likely to provide an easy base to cycle.”

In respect to its expectation for a big dividend this year, the broker commented:

“We forecast strong cash generation conditions to continue through 1H21, bringing forecast net cash to A$119mn in 1H21 and A$171mn in FY21. We forecast a recovery in dividend payout ratio to ~60% over FY21, translating to a forecast FY21 dividend of A$0.78 per share, implying a 6.7% [at the time] fully franked dividend before contemplating capital management.”

All in all, this appears to make the Super Retail share price one to watch in 2021.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Super Retail Group Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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