“We’ve done a terrific job, both our store staff, our support office staff, and our customers,” he said.
“We’ve made the best of a tough situation and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back into our stores. It has been a challenging period for government, it has been a challenging period for business, and we’re just trying to make the best of it.”
Mr Murray said he expected Tuesday to be a busy day in his stores as staff return to prepare for Wednesday’s reopening, but the retailer is confident of being ready for the Christmas rush.
Caleb Brown, the chief executive of retailing group Brand Collective, said he would open some stores an hour early on Wednesday to help customers with online returns. Brand Collective operates stores including Volley, Shoes and Sox, Superdry and Clarks.
“We’re going to try and power through some of those customers early in the day,” he said. “We want to welcome all our customers back, but we prefer that they didn’t all come at the same time.
“It’s been a difficult period for everybody, but we’ve now got the certainty we’ve been hoping for. And the team’s very excited to get back into stores.”
Mr Murray said he would keep a “watching brief” on whether changes to trading hours or store operations would be needed at JB Hi-Fi, but stressed COVID-safe shopping was his priority.
Scott Fyfe, the newly appointed chief of David Jones, said the retailer was “more than ready” to go on Wednesday morning.
“It’s been a challenging time for everyone in the community, but our team is now looking forward to welcoming our customers back in store,” he said.
Paul Zahra, chief executive of the Australian Retailers Association, said the reopenings from Wednesday meant some form of “normalcy can finally begin to emerge in Victoria”.
“The flow-on effects from Victorian retail reopening will be felt around the country, allowing national retailers to resume normal operations during the all-important Christmas trading period,” he said.
Mr Zahra said he was elated that Christmas was back on in the state, noting Victoria’s status as a hub for warehousing and distribution meant it played a vital role nationally in getting products onto shelves for the end-of-year rush.
“It’s not Christmas without Victoria. We are elated that Christmas is finally on – in every state and territory – now that Victoria will finally be open for the holiday shopping season.”
Mr Murray said it would be incumbent on customers to look out for each other in stores and be kind to staff, noting it would be a very busy first few days.
“We’ve all got to be respectful and keep our sense of humour,” he said.
Dominic Powell writes about the retail industry for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.