Tasmania's retail sector could be in for more job losses when government stimulus measures end, says a leading expert.
It comes as Australia Bureau of Statistics data showed about 9900 Tasmanians found themselves out of work in May.
It follows 9300 job losses in April and means about 22,000 jobs have disappeared since February.
IN OTHER NEWS:
University of Tasmania senior Marketing lecturer Dr Louise Grimmer said when government packages, like JobKeeper, role back more stores could close.
"There is no sugar-coating the impact of coronavirus on the retail industry and Tasmania is suffering along with all other states and territories, as we see from the latest retail figures," she said.
The Deloitte Access Economics figures Dr Grimmer is referring to show Tasmania's retail sector has been one of the worst performing in the country.
IN RELATED NEWS:
"Sadly I think we will see more closures as the year progresses and the government removes stimulus measures that have been propping up many retail stores," she said.
Launceston Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Andrew Pitt said the retail sector made up an important part of Northern Tasmania's economy.
"It employs almost 12 per cent of the Northern Tasmanian workforce, and a majority are women," he said.
"We also have a high proportion of locally-owned and operated retailers. So a retail downturn of any magnitude will have a significant effect on both unemployment and underemployment, disproportionately affecting women, which then of course flows through the whole economy."
Dr Grimmer said the retail sector in Tasmania was predominately made up of small businesses.
"These businesses are the backbone of our local communities and our economy and we don't want to lose them," she said.
She said the pandemic could have permanently altered consumers shopping habits.
"Consumer spending shifted online during lock-down as restrictions meant non-essential stores closed," Dr Grimmer said.
"For many people this was the first time they had shopped online and now that we've had three months of having to shop online there will be significant numbers of people for whom this will be a regular part of the shopping experience."
Both Dr Grimmer and Mr Pitt said supporting local producers would help support the retail sector.
"One of the good things to come out of this crisis is a heightened awareness of local retailing and how important it is to have those local and often smaller stores as part of our communities," Dr Grimmer said.
Sign up to one of our many newsletters: