Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is calling for further urgent action from federal and state governments to alleviate chronic labour shortages.
The scale of the labour shortage crisis impacting retail continues to worsen with new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today showing 49,900 vacancies across the retail sector in November 2022 – an increase of 8.2% compared to August 2022.
Retail recorded the biggest increase in job vacancies of all industries in the latest data; accelerating the trend we saw throughout much of 2022.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra welcomed government initiatives in combating the crisis thus far but said more urgent action is required.
“Retail businesses are at the coalface of Australia’s economy and our daily lives, yet they can’t secure enough staff.
“The Government has made great strides in this space, increasing the cap on migration, improving support for women in the workforce and introducing the Work Bonus for pensioners – but it’s clear from today’s data that further work is urgently needed,” Mr Zahra said.
“Labour shortages remain the predominant issue retailers are facing, with some stores forced to reduce trading hours in response to worsening staff availability. It can be the difference between success and insolvency for small businesses.
“These shortages were exacerbated during the frenetic Christmas trading period, the most critical time of the year for retail. And the strain of labour shortages is far reaching.
“You end up with staff who can find themselves overworked and burnt out, and shoppers languishing in longer queues. With longer waiting times, shoppers become impatient and the risk of antisocial behaviour increases,” Mr Zahra said.
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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About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $400 billion sector that employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 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 retail.org.au