As we enter the all-important Christmas trading quarter, retail sales have continued on their record-breaking run. The August figures released by the ABS today show sales up 0.6% compared to the previous month and up 19.2% on the same time last year. Consumers have continued spending in the face of rising interest rates and inflationary pressures. Although it does take some time for those factors to wash through the economy, so we suspect there’ll be some belt-tightening and a softening of sales as we head into 2023. But as it stands right now, retail sales have never been stronger, which is great to see.
The states and territories are continuing with their programs to eradicate single-use plastics, with the WA Government releasing a discussion paper on items they’re proposing to ban from 2023. This includes expanded polystyrene packaging, microbeads, produce bags as well as coffee cups and lids. The ARA will be seeking the views of members as part of our submission to ensure the next stage of bans are implemented in a cost-effective way. Meantime, product deadlines loom in NSW, with a range of items to be banned from November 1, including plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, bowls, plates and expanded polystyrene food containers ARA submission here.
We’re pleased to see the Federal Government follow through on its commitment to deliver more affordable child care, with a bill currently before the Parliament to reduce costs for more than a million families. This has been a key advocacy area for the ARA – we know that child care costs are a significant barrier for parents to return to paid work, and we hope the legislation – if passed – will make a difference and improve workforce participation, in particular for women.