Retail Voice CEO Message: 5 April 2023

Australian homeowners and business operators have been spared another consecutive cash rate increase with the Reserve Bank of Australia pausing at 3.6% in this week’s decision.
The ARA welcomes this decision by the RBA, noting the repercussions that rising interest rates and loan repayments are having on both consumers and small businesses – which we highlighted in our opinion piece published on the weekend here.

Of course, the RBA hasn’t ruled out the need for further rate increases to combat inflation in the months ahead, but April’s decision provides much needed relief to those who are doing it tough.

The ARA last week made the first of two submissions to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review, recommending a 3.8% increase in the minimum wage from 01 July 2023 to help retail workers keep up with the rising cost of living. You can read our full submission here.

The submission follows deep consultation with our members, experts and economists and we believe an increase of this magnitude strikes the balance between an employer’s ability to keep pace with the rising costs of doing business, against an employee’s expectation that wages grow in line with prices.

In our submission, we recommended that the Commission take into account the projected fall in inflation through 2023-24 rather than focus solely on the high inflation that we have experienced in 2022-23.

And we urged the Commission to consider the rising costs of doing business – such as leasing, energy, logistics and insurance – when making its decision, using the feedback you gave us in our recent cost of doing business survey.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest labour vacancy figures, revealing a considerable decline in retail job vacancies. There were 36,400 vacancies across the retail sector in February 2023 – a decrease of 27% compared to November 2022.
While this is welcome news, the reduction is likely a result of the increasing cost of doing business and is merely a reflection on seasonal trading. You can read the full media release here. Stay across all the latest retail statistics in our live industry dashboard here.
With Easter this weekend, I wish you success with your long weekend trading.
As always, our membership team is here to help if you need any assistance, so don’t hesitate to reach out via email or on 1300 368 041.
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