The Gold Coast’s usually thriving tourist strip has become a ghost town as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
Surfers Paradise was deserted during the lunch hour on Tuesday with the tourist-reliant ‘glitter strip’ now awash with ‘for lease’ signs, even though Queensland isn’t in lockdown.
The Cavill Avenue Mall leading down to the beach was devoid of anybody, with crowds and buskers nowhere in sight.
The beach had few people on the sand with foreign backpackers absent.
The nightclub activity of Saturday night is now dead, with a string of pubs and restaurants closed, as government COVID-19 restrictions decimate the Gold Coast and push up unemployment.
The once-busy shopping malls near Broadbeach are empty – as Australia faces its most dramatic downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.
Queensland has banned Victorians – normally a key source of winter-escaping holiday-makers – as a second wave of coronavirus hits their state, and now barred everyone from New South Wales including Sydneysiders.
International tourists have also stopped coming because of the national border closure.
While the Sunshine State is no longer in lockdown, with just 12 active coronavirus cases, the economic pain was plain to see with restaurants, clothes shops and art galleries now empty.
The anecdotal evidence of business failure was backed up by the figures on Tuesday.
The Reserve Bank of Australia this month left interest rates on hold at a record-low of 0.25 per cent, but it now expects the national jobless rate to climb to a 26-year high of ten per cent by Christmas instead of coming down.
Just two months ago, it expected unemployment to peak at nine per cent by the end of 2020.
‘The Australian economy is going through a very difficult period and is experiencing the biggest contraction since the 1930s,’ governor Philip Lowe said.
Dr Lowe said the global recovery from COVID-19 was likely to be slow.
‘Even though the worst of this contraction has now passed, the outlook remains highly uncertain,’ he said.
‘The recovery is expected to be only gradual and its shape is dependent on containment of the virus.’
Unemployment is already at a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent and the central bank fears Victoria’s new COVID-19 restrictions will make any economic recovery ‘both uneven and bumpy’.
For the first time ever, close to one million Australians are officially unemployed.
Australia’s first recession in 29 years has also seen seven million adults, or 35 per cent of the labour force either lose their job or take a pay cut, a survey by financial comparison website Canstar found.
Of the Australians financially affected by COVID-19 more than half, or 57 per cent of them, had seen a reduction in their working hours while another 18 per cent had lost their job.
During June, department store trade dived by 12.1 per cent, Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade figures showed.
If Broadbeach on the Gold Coast is any guide, retail activity wasn’t in good shape.
A young couple outside Myer, straddling on a banana lounge, appeared to be the only sign of life at the Pacific Fair shopping mall on Hooker Boulevard early on Sunday afternoon.
The nearby Molly Malone’s Irish Pub was empty on Saturday night and had a sign out the front which said: ‘Landlord in possession pursuant to notice to tenant’.
A short walk away The Bavarian, a German restaurant, had a blue sign out on the glass: ‘This venue is temporarily closed.’
Little wonder, three-quarters of Queensland businesses are expecting the economy to deteriorate during the next 12 months, a survey released this week by Suncorp and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland found.