Penalty rates must support retail growth, says ARA

4 AUGUST, 2015: Retail sales figures for June 2015 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have shown further growth as debate intensifies on penalty rates following the release of the Productivity Commission’s workplace relations draft report, with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) saying that penalty rates must be reduced to support further retail growth.

Australian retail trade figures for June 2015 grew by 4.9 percent year on year to 24.3 billion. Year on year figures provide the most accurate measure of the sector’s performance and are the most used figures by retail businesses in their own reporting. Month on month sales for June 2015 rose 0.7 percent.

“June’s retail sales growth is very pleasing and is an improvement on the previous month’s positive results of 4.6 percent, indicating increased confidence in the market,” said Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA.

“Sales of household goods particularly are going from strength to strength, with growth of 10.6 per cent year on year, while the ACT is also seeing an increased pick up, with sales up 8.3 per cent. This is heartening to see, with both of these having suffered from softening trade in the past couple of years,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The figures fall on the same day as the release of the Productivity Commission’s report into workplace relations, which recommends that Sunday penalty rates for retailers should be aligned with Saturday at a rate of 25 percent.

“The ARA is pleased to see the Productivity Commission has opened up discussion on penalty rates. The ARA, along with a group of retailers is already engaged in a review of the General Retail Industry Award 2010 (GRIA), with the view to reducing costs for retailers who trade on Sundays,” said Mr Zimmerman.

The ARA is arguing for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates from 100 percent, known as double time, to 50 per cent, or time and half for retail workers.

“The fast food industry and restaurant industry awards are both significantly lower than the GRIA for Sunday penalties at just 50 per cent, and we would like to see the GRIA brought down to match this,” he said.

“We fully support the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s report and look forward to working with the Government to implement these reforms.”

YEAR ON YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (June 2014 – June 2015 seasonally adjusted)

Food, 3.3 percent; household goods, 10.6 percent; clothing, footwear and personal accessories, 5.8 percent; department stores, 2.3 percent; other retailing, 2.9 percent; and café restaurants, and takeaway foods, 5.4 percent.

NSW, 6.7 percent; Victoria, 5.4 percent; Queensland, 2.9 percent; South Australia, 6.2; Western Australia; 2.6 percent; Tasmania, 1.7 percent; Northern Territory, 0.7 percent; and Australian Capital Territory, 8.3 percent.


About the Australian Retailers Association:
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $265 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

For interview opportunities with ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman call the ARA Media team on 0439 612 556  or email



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