Retail job vacancies surge to 40,300 as labour shortages cripple the industry

The scale of the labour shortage crisis crippling the retail industry has been laid bare by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today, with new figures showing there were 40,300 job vacancies in retail trade in May – an increase of 11,200, or 38.5% compared to February this year.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said retail trade recorded the highest increase in job vacancies of any industry, highlighting the urgent need for federal and state government action.

“The figures released today confirm what many retailers are experiencing. They simply can’t get enough staff, be it in frontline roles or specialist positions in data and technology, which is severely impacting their ability to trade at their full potential,” Mr Zahra said.

“Exacerbated by overseas and student workers missing from our economy, staff shortages along with rising business costs related to leasing, fuel, energy and supply chains, is pushing many small businesses to the brink. We need to see some immediate practical solutions from government, otherwise this situation will only deteriorate.

“We continue to call for a review of employment income as part of the age pension income test. This would mobilise a willing and able cohort of workers and allow pensioners to supplement their income and work more hours.

“We also need to see reduced red tape around immigration so we can get more skilled foreign workers into the country, along with more international students. Unfortunately, Australia’s brand has been damaged due to the Covid lockdowns from the past two years, and many foreign workers no longer see us as an attractive option to live and work.

“Accelerated training solutions are also important, and we’re continuing discussions with states and territories on how we can quickly mobilise other important workforce cohorts, including return to work parents and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“The ABS figures confirm the results of a recent survey of ARA members; not one of them said labour shortages had improved over the past three months and 84% said it’s becoming much harder to find and recruit new team members – a dire situation for our industry,” Mr Zahra said.


Media Enquiries:

Dominic Cuschieri

M 0418 224 072



About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 100,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit




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