The temporary authorisation, granted by the ACCC to the Australian Retailers Association and its current and future members, will allow retailers to share information such as rising vacancies within shopping centres, falling customer counts and deteriorating trading conditions as part of considering and negotiating support to be provided by their landlords in the context of COVID-19.
The ACCC Chair Rod Sims said: “We see a clear public benefit in allowing retailers to work together in the negotiations with landlords as it will help those tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during this pandemic to reach a fair outcome."
“We need to maintain strong competition in the retail sector and supporting these businesses will help with the economic recovery once the pandemic subsides.”
The CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, Paul Zahra welcomed the decision saying: “Rent, along with wages, is one of the biggest outgoings for retailers. While JobKeeper has given welcome relief on the wages front, this decision will assist our members to strike collective arrangements with their landlords.”
“A practical example is a group of retailers – large and small – negotiating a collective percentage reduction in rent, but those retailers would not be able to quantify to each other the specific impact on their businesses in dollar terms.”
“Retailers will also be able to discuss the position landlords have taken around interpreting and applying the mandatory Code of Conduct for retail leasing announced recently by the Prime Minister, which the states are legislating,” Mr Zahra added.