The Brisbane CBD lies deserted as floodwaters continue to rise, with an estimated 3,500 businesses closing their doors and 70,000 businesses and homes without electricity.
Analysts predict the next big flood will come within 24 hours, when the heavily swollen Brisbane River is expected to peak at 5.5 metres.
All commerce and shipping throughout the Port of Brisbane has come to a halt and more than 100 roads have been closed across the wider metropolitan area.
Virgin Blue has evacuated its Brisbane headquarters while major retailer JB HiFi has shut 12 of its Queensland stores.
A total of nine Woolworths stores and 16 Coles supermarkets are closed while David Jones has shut six stores and Myer has closed three, including its heavily damaged Toowoomba store.
Coles and Woolworths have since joined forces to supply flood-affected stores.
Discount merchandise chain The Reject Shop has halted trading in its shares while it assesses the impact of the floods on its distribution centre in Ipswich, which supplies 90 of the company’s 211 stores.
The Australian Retailers Association says retailers can expect consumer spending to remain slow for an extended period as people limit their purchases to essential items.
ARA executive chairman Russell Zimmerman says fashion retailers in flood zones are likely to be the hardest hit as they will be unable to restock until winter merchandise arrives.
Meanwhile, Queensland coal mines are either closed or operating below normal capacity. Queensland produces around 80% of Australia’s coal exports, which equates to around 20% of the nation’s earnings.
Cotton, in addition to coal, is tipped to reach near-record prices due to shortages, and fresh produce prices are already rising.
The affect on beef exports, another of Queensland’s major industries, has been limited, although stock losses will not be known until mustering recommences once the waters recede.
Australia Post has announced that mail delivery into and out of flood-affected areas is severely impacted and subject to major delays.
“We have put in place a number of relief messages to consider for customers facing difficulty… These include free mail redirections for those unable to have mail delivered to their current address due to flood damage,” Australia Post says.
“In instances where we are unable to deliver mail, we are holding it at post offices and delivery centres and will resume full mail delivery as soon as it is safe to do so.”