A third of retailers are unsure their businesses will survive the next 12 months thanks to restrictions imposed by the Government in its response to Covid-19.
That's according to Retail New Zealand's quarterly report to September which examines how retailers have fared in the previous three months and their satisfaction with the Government's handling of the virus.
In a survey of 447 businesses and franchise groups from across the country, it found 75 per cent did not meet their quarterly sales targets, while 45 per cent didn't expect to meet their targets for next quarter.
Concerningly, more than a third were unsure whether they would still be open after 12 months.
Nationwide average retail spending was down by at least 15 per cent in August and down by 16 per cent in September, but the survey found many businesses had been trading at close to zero.
"Retailers are facing significant issues like cost pressures, ability to make rent payments, and lack of stock across alert level 2 and 3," Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said.
"Retailers are impacted by tougher trading restrictions placed on retailers at the new alert level settings."
Harford estimated the survey respondents accounted for between 20-30 per cent of retail sector turnover in New Zealand.
Satisfaction with the Government's Covid plan had also taken a nose-dive in the last three months with more than 69 per cent either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with its response to the virus, compared to 29 per cent in the previous quarter.
The report prompted 10 recommendations from Retail NZ for the Government, aimed at supporting economic activity as the country moved down alert levels.
They ranged from providing specific dates for when Auckland would transition through the recently announced phased approach to easing restrictions, through to deferring extra costs which could force businesses to go under.
Retail NZ recommendations:
• Set clear dates for the implementation of the Auckland road map, so that businesses can plan ahead and that the public can get vaccinated
• Urgently implement saliva testing as part of the Covid-19 response
• Urgently provide a clear mandate for employers seeking to require staff to be vaccinated
• Backdate proposed rent relief arrangements to August 17 when the current round of lockdown restrictions started
• Provide additional financial support for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions
• Speed up the regulation of interchange fees – which would have a positive impact for small and medium retailers
• Put a two-year moratorium on further increases in the minimum wage.
• Defer the proposed "Fair Pay Agreement system"
• Immediately vote down the Holidays (Parent-Teacher Interview Leave) Amendment Bill
• Stimulate the economy, and mitigate the impacts of cost increases by reducing the rate of GST
"We hope that the dire results reported in the latest Retail Radar Report will give Government the urgency to take some action," Harford said.
He highlighted the importance of providing clarity regarding Auckland's roadmap, saying it would be preferential to pin dates on the different stages and risk them being changed, than having no dates at all.
"It's a roadmap to nowhere at the moment," he said.
The several thousand retailers associated with the national body represented about two-thirds of the total turnover in the sector.