A high-profile jeweler who refused to close his store during the COVID-19 closure accused the government of “terrorism” and claims that closed retailers should be “ashamed” – as calls for work are increasing .
Holloway Diamonds founder Garry Holloway has plastered his Canterbury store in Melbourne’s green interior with banners that read ‘We Are Open’ and ‘People need to be paid’.
With more than 100,000 retail workers stepping down since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the economy plunged, pressure is mounting on the government to reopen stores as the contamination curve narrows.
But a cautious federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned too early about lifting restrictions on Australian companies because it would risk a “second wave” of infection.
Holloway Diamonds boss Garry Holloway says retailers who have closed their doors should be ashamed of taking people out of their jobs
A sign stuck in the window of Holloway Diamonds in the interior of Melbourne. Garry Holloway, the boss of Holloway Diamonds, says retailers should get back to work
A Just Jeans store in Melbourne closed after parent company Premier Investments decided on March 29 to close stores and fire staff
“There are real challenges ahead. People shouldn’t be complacent. Patience is a real virtue, ”he said Thursday.
People who walked past Mr. Holloway’s store on Thursday stopped to take pictures of his public protest.
A sign in his shop window reads, “Shopkeepers closing and firing people should be ashamed! Only nails and beauty salons are closed by law. ‘
“These are crazy times,” a woman told Daily Mail Australia.
But a defiant Mr. Holloway stuck to his statements when questioned by Daily Mail Australia.
“I think they should be ashamed,” said Mr. Holloway on Thursday.
“Because they scared people off. What are they going to do for money? ‘
Mr. Holloway said that while it was easy for large retailers, with more financial clout to close, smaller retailers should remain open to support their workforce.
“Those part-timers are not paid. They’re closed, so they don’t get the $ 750 a week. So no one goes to the store, ”he said.
Mr. Holloway said that people could not survive for long without immediate income coming in.
“It’s pretty bad. You’ve been firing people for two or three weeks now … How many people working in retail and tourism and all kinds of companies have nothing to pay the rent now? To pay for food? ‘ he said.
“In a year we’ll be full when people don’t show up to be counted and actually force the government to relax a bit.”
It is a growing sentiment among some of the country’s largest retailers, who have joined the chorus by asking the government for a look at the end of the shutdown.
Holloway Diamonds in Canterbury is a shining health beacon in retail between a quiet shopping street with another jeweler down the street, which remains closed
One of the many plates stuck to the Holloway Diamonds windows in Canterbury, just outside Melbourne
Closed storefronts can be seen on Wednesday in an Outlet Shopping Center in Canberra
The Grim Reality Of Australia’s Retail Doom
According to data from retail software vendor Vend, sales fell by an average of 28.4 percent from February to March
Victorian retailers were hit hardest, with a 40 percent drop in sales
Sales from Western Australian and NSW retailers declined by approximately 34 percent
Sales were down 48 percent last week compared to an average week in February
Rob Scott, director of Wesfarmers, said AFR that the government’s efforts to flatten the curve through social distancing and addressing areas of greatest risk had been effective.
“As the infection rate decreases, we can ease these restrictions, but it needs to be done with caution,” said Scott.
Ai Group director Innes Willox said it is vital that the government clarify the plan for a way out.
“Many companies are not coming back, so the economy we had before will not be the economy we have in the future,” he said.
Shane Fallscheer, the director of jewelry chain Lovisa, agreed that more clarity was needed about the lockdown laws, saying retailers and consumers were confused about what they could and could not do.
The store, distributive and allied workers’ association have stated that retailers must continue to trade in order to keep people working.
Mr. Holloway said there was no law preventing people from leaving their homes during the closure.
“They kindly ask you not to leave your house. The police are booking people, but the police commissioners in every state have said, “We’re not really going to make all these people pay these fines,” he said.
“What they are doing is a terrorist campaign. There is no law to close. ‘
Mr Holloway, who did not remove his mask during a conversation with Daily Mail Australia, said he had acted responsibly during the crisis.
His 56-square-foot store can accommodate 14 people at any time, staff wear masks, and they often disinfect surfaces, he said.
A lone person walks through an empty Melbourne shopping arcade this month amid the COVID-19 shutdown
Another sign stuck to the Holloway Diamonds windows in Canterbury. The store has remained open amid the COVID-19 chaos
Holloway Diamonds boss Garry Holloway says store-closing retailers should be ashamed of putting people out of work
“What’s going on isn’t fair from the point of view that the (International Monetary Fund) has said that wealthy companies will drop by 6 percent of GDP – in the GFC it was the lowest we’ve ever achieved in the rich country world . 1 percent on average, ”said Mr. Holloway.
“So this will be much closer to the depression of the 1930s and it will make GFC look like a walk in the park.”
Mr Holloway said that if the government did not begin easing the closure in the middle of next month, Australia would face worse problems than those caused by COVID-19.
“We will have suicides like we have never seen before, mental health (problems) will only increase – and the government will have to finance (agencies). Domestic violence, children’s behavior is off the charts. It is terrible, “he said.
Holloway is no stranger to life-changing situations and controversy after his company was repeatedly robbed by African gangs in 2017.
The store is now equipped with a state-of-the-art security system that fills it with smoke when activated.
At the time, Mr. Holloway struck Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews for failing to address the issue.
“They don’t talk about it. They don’t want to talk about it, ”he said at the time.
Mr. Holloway told Daily Mail Australia that he has managed to keep his companies afloat with common sense that employees can use inside and outside the store.
By thinking smart, he has also been able to identify new avenues that yield good results during the lockdown.
“I’ve had a few people say this is irresponsible, but we’re trying to be as responsible as possible,” said Mr. Holloway.
“If we don’t pay people, we’re going to have huge consequences, and it’s those huge consequences that worry me.”