Retail Voice CEO Message: 8 May 2024

Achieving a unified voice for retail has been a compelling focus for our industry for many years.

It is in the spirit of this endeavour that we are delighted to share that the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Council that the ARA and the National Retail Association (NRA) Board have agreed to amalgamate.

We believe a unified sector is a winning proposition for retail and the broader economy and today’s announcement is the result of significant discussions over time between our two organisations.

It makes absolute sense to create one voice for retail, and to combine our strengths to support the growth of this vital $420 billion sector which employs one in ten Australians.

Our two not-for-profit organisations have signed a heads-of-agreement for the amalgamation proposal and will commence collaboration as we build towards applying to the Fair Work Commission for legal and member approvals for our amalgamation. In the meantime, in what is likely to be a 12 – 18 month process, it is business as usual for the ARA and its members.

In other news, the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday left its cash rate unchanged at 4.35%, giving retailers a hint of relief. Read the ARA’s response to the decision.

Higher interest rates are a major factor in this spending slowdown. Whilst we haven’t seen an increase since November, it is clear higher mortgage repayments continue to take a toll on household budgets. That’s why we are advocating for continued government support in the Federal Budget next week.

The Victorian Budget was also released yesterday, proving to be a mixed bag for retailers.

It featured commendable support for families and small businesses, such as a once-off family measure of $400 to spend on uniforms and extracurricular activities per Government school aged child and increasing to payroll the tax-free threshold to $900k for small businesses.

However, the COVID Debt Repayment Plan and phasing out of the tax-free threshold for larger businesses will put a significant handbrake on growth and could potentially result in increased prices or reduced staff.

The Victorian Government’s Sick Pay Guarantee for casual workers will also be abolished. Our full response below.

We have had a further win for our work advocating for changes to the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA). The FWC has determined favourably, aligning with the ARA’s recommendations, that the penalty rates payable under clause 16.6 (b) of the GRIA are calculated based on an employee’s minimum hourly rate. More at this link.

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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