A survey of 300 businesses in Braddon has revealed that more than half face the prospect of closure before the end of the year if another lockdown were to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey also found that 68 per cent of businesses experienced revenue loss during restrictions of between 50 and 100 per cent, and 17 per cent continue to experience revenue loss between 50 and 100 per cent.
On the employment front, 37 per cent of businesses are operating with around 40 per cent of their usual staff.
To further support ACT businesses, the ACT Government has announced that it is extending a range of economic survival measures to help local businesses trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
JobKeeper payments will remain exempt from payroll tax, while a payroll tax waiver will be extended three months to December 2020 for businesses unable to trade, or able to trade on a very restricted basis due to ACT Government restrictions.
There are also incentives for commercial property owners affected by COVID-19 to continue to defer their rates interest-free for a further six months.
The survey was conducted by Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders (BURT) in response to the government’s $13.9 million commitment to upgrade lighting, accessibility and parking along streets in Braddon and Dickson.
Widened footpaths leading to the light rail stops, more bike racks for cyclist parking and increased lighting along Haig Park have been flagged by the ACT Government.
The first stage of works will begin in February along Lonsdale Street in Braddon between Cooyong and Girrawheen streets and is marked for completion in early 2022.
Spokesperson for BURT Kel Watt said it was imperative that the activities of business and government were in alignment or doors would close and hundreds of staff would face unemployment.
“The government’s investment in beautification is welcome in principle, but all the footpath flowerpots in the world won’t do a thing to grow revenue and staff levels back to normal if the failures of current infrastructure are not addressed,” Mr Watt said.
Mr Watt pointed to a number of urgent upgrades that could be made, with 93 per cent of Braddon businesses nominating improvements to car parking as a priority.
Upgrades to improve traffic flow, security and lighting, public toilets and loading zones were also identified as issues that needed urgent attention; however, 85 per cent of businesses were concerned upgrade works would hurt their operations.
“With the government linking upgrade work to the impacts of the coronavirus and need to help local operators, it is a no-brainer that upgrades identified by businesses should be made the priority.
“Owners and managers have said the crunch will come between now and Christmas, so the time for strategic cooperation is now,” Mr Watt said.
The survey was released as Braddon’s landmark Rainbow Roundabout was named the international roundabout of the year by the United Kingdom’s Roundabout Appreciation Society.
There was strong business support for the roundabout at the intersection of Elouera and Lonsdale Streets to be retained, along with enhancements to a number of roundabouts in the Braddon with artwork similar to the Rainbow Roundabout to reference multiculturalism, the environment, women’s suffrage or equity issues.
Mr Watt said discussions with other Canberra businesses provided anecdotal evidence that the hardships facing Braddon are being felt across the ACT.
“Failure to get the right policy and programs in place now will see dozens of Braddon businesses wind up and their staff without jobs. If replicated elsewhere, the economic crisis will be like nothing ever seen before,” he said.
The full report of the Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders survey is on their website.