Retail labour vacancies fall as cost of doing business bites 

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed a decline in retail job vacancies, but believes it is largely due to rapidly rising costs of doing business – prompting businesses to cut back on hiring.  

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today reveal 32,200 vacancies across the retail sector as of May 2023 – a decrease of 13% compared to February 2022. 

Approximately 21.7% of retail businesses reported having vacancies, down 6% from February. 

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said that while the decline in vacancies was welcome – it is likely a consequence of retailers limiting hiring due to financial constraints. 

“We are still concerned about the high number of vacancies, but we fear a significant driver in the decline is due to retailers experiencing a cost-of-doing-business crisis,” Mr Zahra said.  

“With increasing costs of rent, wages, insurance, utilities, materials and supply chain costs, some retailers are battling to avoid making redundancies – let alone hiring additional staff. 

“The 32,200 retail vacancies remaining would likely be retailers who are still seeing somewhat stable performance – and they’re still struggling to fill those roles. “For us to proactively combat retail job vacancies, it requires further investment in our labour force.

“Despite this reduction, labour shortages remain a predominant issues retailers are facing.” 

The ARA is calling for: 

  • Further improvements to childcare, to improve workforce participation and financial security for women
  • National consistency around the minimum working age
  • Continued streamlining of immigration applications and removal of red tape
  • Further supporting the long term unemployed, ensuring access to sustained work.


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