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Christmas crushed; consumer confidence rises

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is crushed by the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to increase penalty rates for more than 350,000 casual retail workers on Saturdays and after 6pm on weekdays.

This wage increase will create more strain for retailers already working in such an overwrought market.

This decision is a grave outcome for the Australian retail sector, as 135,000 independent retailers currently operate under the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA).

With this decision taking place from 1 November this year, we can be certain retailers will have to re-think their Christmas trading strategy.

Christmas trade is the biggest trading season for retailers, and these increases to casual workers’ pay on Saturdays and weekday evenings will certainly impact on trading hours around the country.

Although we welcome the FWC’s decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates for full-time and casual shift workers, we are concerned these inconsistent Fair Work decisions bring more complexities to the GRIA.

The Modern Award system is already complex, and we are concerned the Australian Labor Party’s selective acceptance of the FWC’s employment decisions will continue to jeopardise the Australian retail industry.

"These strong mid-year figures are a consequence from the psychological effect of the personal tax cuts coming into play from July this year"

We are disappointed with the casual employment decision, and would like to remind the Labor Party that the FWC was established for a reason, and that Labor Party should not try to overturn an independent body when it does not agree with its decisions.

Due to the inflexibility around part time employment and the reduced number of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements we believe this disastrous decision will see many retailers out-of-pocket at their busiest time of year.

Retailers usually thrive during the Christmas period, however this year I’m concerned many retailers will bear the brunt of an unjust and detrimental decision.

Casual staff are the lifeblood of the retail industry, and instead of seeing our retailers shine this Christmas, we will see them undertake more pressure and have to make serious decisions about their Christmas trade.

Consumer confidence

The August trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics represent the quiet boost in consumer confidence with the month seeing a 3.77 per cent total year-on-year increase.

The trade figures were driven by the launch of new season products and the confidence seen in the change in Prime Minister.

We can see there was a slight uptick in consumer confidence around August with cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services showing the strongest year-on-year growth at 5 per cent.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessories also saw a strong 4 per cent year-on-year growth this August as some confidence returned to consumers after receiving their tax refunds.

I think these strong mid-year figures are also a consequence from the psychological effect of the personal tax cuts coming into play from July this year.

This quiet consumer confidence can be seen across various retail categories with consumers rewarding themselves with little luxuries across the market.

This quiet growth is somewhat comforting for all retailers across Australia, especially leading up to Christmas and we hope this boost in consumer confidence and discretionary spend flows through to the end of year where retailers are hoping to see their biggest trade yet.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell Zimmerman

Russell Zimmerman is the executive director of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA). Email: info@retail.org.au









Wednesday, 12 December, 2018 10:31am
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