Wednesday 1 November 2017

This Blame Game Needs To Stop

It is said that any publicity is good publicity . But the rather sad picture in Monday’s Herald-Sun of 6 traders who want to blame the retail recession on the QVM Renewal process does little to help traders and unfortunately denigrates our market.

Playing politics might be fine for some minority groups associated with the market, but traders need positive action and a willingness to start working on all the one-percenters that may successfully lead us to a brighter future. We can only say “may lead to success” because there are many very professional retail entities in this world who are currently struggling with the same problem and many who have failed - Borders, Colorado, Dick Smith, Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch, Topshop, are just some of those in Australia.

To suggest that declining trade and empty stalls is somehow caused by QVM Renewal is just stupid. It is perfectly clear to the majority of traders that we are victims of many different disrupters - changing consumer preferences, shrinking disposable incomes, intense online competition, predatory activity by strong retail competitors - and the list goes on.

Management are not without fault. Neither is the City of Melbourne, nor traders themselves. We would all love to find the one thing that will fix our problems. If simply blaming the City of Melbourne or QVM Management was the answer to trader’s problems it would be fantastic. But this is not simple. Battling retail recession is incredibly complex and requires lots of focus and energy on many issues. The answer for traders is not to dumb down the problem and find someone else to blame, but to work co-operatively, and energetically towards solutions.

Let's make it clear - QVM Renewal is a response to retail decline, not the cause, as the Herald -Sun article suggests. It is time our Trader Representatives got back to the discussion table and we got on with a difficult task. They will need lots of help from traders (maybe more than they have received so far) and a sympathetic hearing from management. Only the focused and committed are going to survive this, and fortunately hard-nosed determination is a strong trader quality.

By Greg Smith

02/11/2017 17:08:20      This blame game needs to stop  "The article refers to lack of consultation and trader frustration due to being ignored by management.  There are only two quotes provided by traders -
There’s a complete lack of consultation,’’ Mr Graczyk said.
And K Shed trader Robyn Faulkner said one or two businesses a week were leaving because of the uncertainty. “We have no bloody idea what management is doing,’’ she said.
Whilst I wish the negativity around the market would disappear, none of the traders in this article have blamed management for their downturn, they are expressing frustration at a lack of involvement in the consulting process. Your editorial has gone on a completely different tangent."

Interesting – you see the Herald Sun article as being about lack of consultation and trader frustration and I saw it as an attempt to blame retail decline on the renewal process. I guess the line - "business has slumped by 20 per cent since the redevelopment process began" may have influenced the Victraders article. The “slump” and the “redevelopment” are not connected and it is wrong to connect them.
Incidentally, both Mr.Grazyk and Robyn Faulkner are technically incorrect in their statements. There has been some consultation and we do have some bloody idea of what management is doing. It is all a matter of degree. Consultation can mean being told very little through to completely controlling the process. Frustration will probably be present no matter what happens because our future is unpredictable.
The point is that withdrawing from discussions and blaming the other side gets nowhere. While our competitors focus on all the one-percenters that need attention we are wasting time on blame. That doesn’t make sense and so the Victraders article premise remains. We have to stop the blame game and get on with solutions. Thanks for your input. This is a worthwhile debate. – Ed.