April rates pause gives retailers a moment to catch their breath

Peak industry body the National Retail Association (NRA) welcomes the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBAs) decision to pause rate increases this month, allowing retailers to sleep easy tonight.

NRA CEO Greg Griffith said the cash rate currently sits at 3.6 percent after a debilitating 10 consecutive rate hikes that put several small retailers at risk of closing down.

“The cost-of-living crunch has weighed heavily on consumer sentiment, and the industry is thankful the RBA has put down its hammer long enough to assess the full impact of its monetary policy,” Mr Griffith said.

“Retail spending remained flat in the month of February. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed a 0.2 percent increase in retail turnover, down from a 1.8 percent increase in January.

“Inflation is down 6.8 percent from 7.4 percent last month, which comes as no surprise given consumers are reining in their spending even on non-discretionary items.

“This small period of relief presents an opportunity for businesses to get on top of labour shortages and the continued supply-chain issues that exacerbate inflation and put a strain on retail growth.

“The retail sector needs targeted support to ensure Australia’s small and medium sized business community can get on top of their expenses before they are hit by another economic challenge.

“With the Federal Budget just a couple of months away, the government should be considering relief packages for businesses who are at risk of shutting down.

“We ask the RBA to take its time before instituting another rate rise in May, and give the economy a chance to recover and adjust to the current landscape,” he said.

Retailers can access support to navigate increasing costs, staff shortages, retail crime and other issues including the single-use plastic bans through the NRA hotline; 1800 RETAIL.

The National Retail Association is the voice of modern retail, representing more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, please contact the NRA media unit at marketing@nra.net.au or 1800 RETAIL (738 245).