With the novel coronavirus came significant restrictions to how Australians lived their daily lives in order to help stop its spread, and among these changes was a big shift in how retailers conducted their business.
While certain industries such as pubs, cinemas, and entertainment venues had to close their doors entirely, thankfully hi-fi retailers could still remain open, albeit with the requirement that social distancing be enforced on their premises.
Although these companies can still operate, it’s certainly not business as usual, as the shift in laws and customer priorities has impacted almost every aspect of operation – retail store custom, online and phone orders, and even home installations.
We’ve spoken with a few Australian hi-fi retailers to see how they’ve been handling the situation.
On the physical storefront side of things, Mike Vernon of Eastwood Hi-Fi says that, while business is “a little lighter than usual, we are doing OK. We thought at first store traffic would take a hit, but no, store traffic and the phones have been keeping us busy. Of course we abide by all the social distancing protocols."
Tim Wallis, manager of Len Wallis Audio told us that “while floor traffic has reduced, it still exists”. The award-winning major hi-fi outlet has had to make some significant changes to how its storefront operates, with a limited number of customers allowed in the store, hand sanitiser stations setup at the entry and throughout, as well as sound-lounges being limited to a single listener at any time.
It’s not all bad news, though – online and phone orders have picked up to help soften the blow that the lighter customer presence in brick-and-mortar stores is creating. According to Tony Stanzos of Audio Solutions, the business has seen “a marked increase in website sales and phone enquiries”.
Stanzos also mentioned that, as a by-product of people spending more time at home, he was “pleasantly surprised by the number of customers who have been either upgrading their audio/visual systems or in the case of people working from home, purchasing audio systems for their home office.”
Len Wallis Audio is also “witnessing considerable growth in both phone and online enquiries”, according to Tim Wallis, and it has introduced free shipping across Australia to facilitate this. “We are also encouraging local deliveries, in many cases leaving the goods at a client’s door, and then calling them to collect”.
A considerable part of Len Wallis’ business revolves around custom installation of its hi-fi products, an area “where things get a little more complex”.
“Some clients have gone into complete lockdown and projects have been put on hold until this all blows over”, said Len Wallis, owner of Len Wallis Audio. “Others are happy to let us into their homes, but again assuming that all correct procedures are adhered to. All vans are equipped with masks, gloves and PPE suits. We also contact all clients the day prior to the installation to check that the house is Covid free.”
The future of hi-fi
While some retailers may be seeing an increased demand for equipment so that customers stuck at home can flesh out their setup, there’s no doubt that the current situation will affect hi-fi retailers across the country.
If you’d like to continue to see top-notch equipment stocked, and unmatched expertise provided, then now more than ever is the time to support your local independent hi-fi retailers.
Below is a list of selected retailers and their contact information:
Len Wallis Audio
64 Burns Bay Rd, Lane Cove NSW 2066
(02) 9427 6755
1195 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020
(02) 9317 3330
16/829 Old Northern Rd, Dural NSW 2158
(02) 9651 4922