Local businesses fight back to keep workers working

New research reveals that some local businesses are managing to buck the diabolical trend COVID-19 has wrought in the retail and hospitality sectors in the first quarter of 2020. While bars and restaurants have seen a huge drop in rostered hours for staff, cafes and independent retailers have not recorded such a steep drop-off.

The data, collated by Deputy, a platform for shift workers, suggests that small businesses have the agility to “reinvent” their offering to adapt to the new reality and, while they are having to reduce staff members’ working hours, they are managing to continue to operate.

“All segments and businesses are suffering and will have to work very hard to face this difficult period”, Ashik Ahmed, CEO of Deputy said.”But we can see some reliance on small and local businesses, like cafes, which are rapidly managing to pivot towards a takeaway model, for example.”

The key trends form the daily hours rostered from 2 January 2 to 23 March are:

  • Bars using Deputy’s platform scheduled 87 per cent fewer hours on 23 March 23rd compared to the January average. And scheduled hours on Monday 23 March – the first day of the restrictions on public gatherings – were 63 per cent lower than the pevious day.
  • Restaurants using the platform recorded 70 per cent fewer scheduled hours on 23 March compared to the January average.
  • Cafes only saw a drop of 52 per cent in
    scheduled hours on 23 March compared to the January average, with cafes outside the main city centres less impacted by the drop in customers.
  • Independent supermarkets and food and beverage shops recorded 56 per cent fewer scheduled hours on 23 March compared to the January average.
  • Local retailers recorded 22 per cent fewer scheduled hours on 23 March compared to the January average.

Ahmed praised the government’s decision to include shift workers and casuals [who have worked for the same business for 12 months or more] in its $130 billion rescue package last weekend.

“Unprecedented times like we are in right now call for courageous decisions to be made,” Ahmed said. “There are many business owners and hourly paid / casual employees that will sleep much better tonight knowing that they have a way to continue to financially provide for themselves and their families during these uncertain times. It is my fundamental belief that people do not attend work, just to work. People come to work to be part of a community. Right now workers in our hourly paid economy need to be able to connect with their community more than ever. The financial support for small businesses is keeping teams connected and together.

“We are strongest when connected together,” Ahmed, concluded.

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