This week, Melbourne is trying to get back to some semblance of normality, following 11 weeks of the current lock-down. But it’s far from “business as usual”.
Based on casual observations, people were desperate to queue up for personal grooming services, restaurants and outdoor shopping. (I did see at least one classic mullet, but I wasn’t sure if it was a fashion statement or just another case of Covid hair…)
Despite the latest changes announced by the Victorian Government over the past week, the ongoing public health provisions mean there will still be a “work from home” directive, retail and restaurants will be subject to density limits (and vax certificates) and masks will be required indoors.
One cafe in my neighbourhood, which has kept going during lock-down with serving takeaways, is deferring opening up for dining-in because they can’t get enough staff. This demand for talent within the hospitality sector means that employers are having to offer sign-on bonuses and higher wages.
While this should be good news for job seekers, the resulting upward pressure on staffing costs will likely trigger a rise in inflation (and higher interest rates?), and possibly further disruptions in supply chains.
Added hiring shortages will come from those employees who have used the lock-down to reassess their career options, and have decided to change jobs – also known as the “Great Resignation”.
Even among those employees who are returning to the office, many of them are only intending to be there 2-3 days a week. This will create a mid-week bulge in the CBD, with various knock-on effects: traffic jams, cramped public transport, and erratic trading patterns for small businesses in retail and hospitality. Employers will also be stressing how they maintain productivity levels with the adoption of extended weekends.
Finally, some industries such as tourism and international travel will take several months to get back to pre-pandemic levels – expect to see steep prices while capacity and supply remain constrained.
Next week: Crypto Regulation in Australia