The Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit gets underway in Canberra tomorrow with around a hundred representatives from the business, union and community sectors gathering for two days of discussions. I’m honoured to be the retail industry’s representative and have been given the opportunity to speak on a panel about creating safe, fair and productive workplaces. We’ve made a number of recommendations in our submission, which you can view here, around strengthening the labour market, improving flexibility when it comes to employment as well as upskilling existing talent.
Whilst summits are often seen as glorified talkfests, we’re encouraged at the level of engagement from the Albanese Government, and in particular Treasurer Jim Chalmers, who we’ve met with several times and who has a sympathetic ear to the issues of retailers both large and small. We’ll keep members updated on any initiatives that are announced by the government in the summit fallout.
We’re also keeping a close eye on National Cabinet, which is meeting today to consider shortening the Covid isolation requirement from seven to five days. This would bring us in line with other global economies and make a big difference in terms of labour shortages which are continuing to cripple many businesses.
From a sales point of view, our sector continues to perform remarkably well with trade in July up 16.5% compared to 12 months prior, and up 1.3% compared to the previous month. It’s an incredible result given the inflationary pressures consumers are under at the moment. Confidence remains low, but that hasn’t translated yet into reduced spending. Although, with inflation yet to peak and the full impact of increased mortgage repayments yet to flow through to household budgets, we may see sales soften in the months ahead.