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How retailers are helping bushfire-affected Australians

While the Australian Government’s response to the catastrophic spread of bushfire throughout much of the country has been widely labelled as insufficient and tone deaf, many retailers and brands have taken it upon themselves to direct support to the people who need it most.

According to the ABC, over 1300 homes have been destroyed this fire season, with a further 501 homes damaged. And while conditions eased in both New South Wales and Victoria on Monday, the fires are expected to continue to burn for weeks. 

In response, both large-scale national bricks and mortar retailers, as well as smaller pureplay brands, have begun taking action to assist the thousands of Australians affected by the fires. 

“The retail community more generally is doing its part to provide help,” National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said. 

According to Lamb, General Pants Co will donate all profits from its stores this Thursday 9th to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.

“I’m proud to say that the NRA supports this initiative, and we encourage any shopper who was looking to visit one of their stores this week to do so on Thursday.”

The big two supermarkets have also offered support for disaster services, with Coles donating $3 million in gift cards to rural fire brigades to stock up on supplies, as well as several pallets of food and groceries to Foodbank to distribute to devastated communities such as Cobargo and Bega, while Woolworths announced with would boost paid leave entitlements for team members committed to rural fire services.

Coles chief executive Steven Cain said their efforts were a tangible way to recognise and thank firefighters and volunteers working tirelessly to save homes, businesses and communities. 

“We want to acknowledge the amazing courage and dedication of volunteer firefighters who continually put their hand up to protect their communities at all times of the year,” Cain said. 

“With a long, hot summer ahead of us, we wanted to show our appreciation of the enormous contribution these firefighters have already made and will continue to make.”

According to Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci, the supermarket had raised almost $1.3 million for the Salvos in the months to Christmas. 

“The ferocity of this year’s bushfire season has been visible to us all, and has tragically taken the life of one of our own team,” Banducci said. 

“We are also proud of our long-standing partnership with The Salvation Army to support the role they play in helping communities recover from the devastating fires.”

Beauty brand Mecca vowed to donate $100,000 to the Red Cross’ bushfire recovery and relief fund, stating it is proud to be part of a community that supports each other when it matters most.

Similarly, Honey Birdette said it “cannot comprehend the terror of any person or animal facing or fighting these devastating fires”, and pledged to donate $15,000 to the Red Cross. 

Several retailers also agreed to donate sales for a period to the relief efforts, with The Daily Edited supporting the NSW Rural Fire Service and VIC Country Fire Authority, as well as Salvos, by donating all proceeds of sales over a 24 hour period. 

Additionally, Camilla will hold an “archive auction” in which it will auction off rare pieces from past collections on Friday 10th January, with all proceeds being donated to fire assistance services. The brand will also donate 10 per cent of sales of its new collection over the week starting Wednesday 8th.

Footwear brand Hush Puppies have pledged to donate all sales made on Thursday 9th to the Red Cross and WIRES, and will launching a road trip later in the year to visit towns devastated by the fires and gifting residents Hush Puppies products.

“It’s important that we do what we can to help and that we all support each other as much as we can during these terrible times,” Hush Puppies general manager Charlene Perera said.

Flora and Fauna said it wouldn’t be doing a sale for the bushfires, as it does not want to “profiteer in any way from this horrific disaster”, and instead directed its consumers to give directly to a number of charities and organisations helping those affected. 

“Promos will always be there, our country and wildlife won’t and anything we can do to help [is] front of mind,” the business said on Instagram. 

Shopping Centre owners Vicinity Centres and Scentre Group are also looking to support those affected through assistance to fundraising efforts.

Vicinity Centres is contributing $250,000 evenly to Salvos and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, as well as provide free advertising space for raising awareness for bushfire appeals.

The group will also offer community space at its more than 60 centres for organisations coordinating a response to the crisis, and enable cash donations across these centres for Salvos, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, as well as state fire authorities.

Mobile blood donation units will also be available at select centres in the coming days, in order to support the blood drive for bushfire victims.

Scentre Group will donate $500,000 to Salvos, as well as provide advertising space for the charity to raise further awareness of its recovery appeal.

Scentre Group chief executive Peter Allen said he considers every Westfield social infrastructure, and that this includes providing support for local emergency services as a place of refuge or shelter when needed, and will facilitate cash donations through its community desks.

“On behalf of our company, I want to express the deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones, homes, businesses and communities,” Allen said.

“We also express our deep admiration and gratitude to all the volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel for their efforts.”

What can you do to help

If your business wants to join the retailers and brands supporting ongoing relief efforts, consider finding a way to donate or support to charities and services helping those in need, including: 

Updated to include additional retailer and shopping centre owner actions.

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