Retail struggle in January 2020

The final month of the year has arrived and we’re into the home stretch before the Christmas and New Year break.

If it didn’t yet feel like we were getting back to life as normal, the sight of bustling shopping precincts on Black Friday certainly did remind us of the pre-pandemic world. Those of you who joined in on the Black Friday to Cyber Monday mania and offered bargain prices, I hope it was a busy and successful few days.

The NRA estimates that $5.3 billion was splashed by shoppers over the four days.  There was also a lot of action online, particularly on Cyber Monday, and we calculate that digital sales came in at $1.8 billion

2020 was clearly the biggest Black Friday in Australian history and the event continues to grow in popularity each year. It has accelerated the growing trend of shoppers making inroads into Christmas purchases earlier than traditionally was the case.

We’re certainly optimistic that Black Friday will provide Australian retail with momentum as we enter December. A successful Christmas period is not only important to retailers, but would also go a long way to breaking the back of Australia’s first recession in 30 years. We encourage you to send us feedback on how your business travelled on Black Friday and how sales compared to previous years.

On a separate note, last week saw state Premiers further ease border restrictions. As of today, Queensland’s border closure with Greater Sydney and Victoria will end, but the Adelaide restriction will remain in place for the time being. Almost all border restrictions have now been lifted in each Australian jurisdiction, asides from those relating to people travelling from South Australia.

Although the tourism industry is obviously the biggest winner from Australians again being able to freely travel the country, retail also stands to benefit immensely. Whether Australians are holidaying at a renowned tourist hotspot, travelling to a major metropolitan centre or escaping to a regional venue, they will be spending money at local retailers in those destinations.

With next to no international travel occurring in the foreseeable future, this summer stands to see a real boom in domestic holidaying. Hopefully this bodes well for those of you operating in popular vacation destinations and your business can reap the rewards in December and January.

Also, last week the NRA was left dismayed by a ruling from the Fair Work Commission to increase the cost of providing work opportunities to young people. As a result, from 1 February 2021 thousands of teenage workers will no longer be eligible for employment under junior rates of pay.

While this might seem like a win for workers on the face of it, it will mean that teenage candidates will now be competing with experienced adults in the retail space for the same job. This decision to drive up the cost of hiring teenage workers will inevitably lead to a shift away from hiring younger people, as the financial proposition simply doesn’t add up for business owners anymore. Although the NRA was the only major retail employer group to fight the issue in the Commission, other industry groups had also supported our case and together we will be looking at options for appealing it.

Finally, this is your last chance to register for tomorrow’s masterclass in rostering and compliance. The NRA Legal team will outline changes to the General Retail Industry Award 2020 and explain your obligations and how to avoid any underpayment cases.

All the best for the week ahead.