Retail struggle in January 2020

Following a year that has thrown up nothing but challenges for the retail sector, there was some welcome relief in last Tuesday’s Federal Budget from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

With economies across the world plunged into recession it is an agonising time for anyone who operates a business, which is why the NRA was pleased to see numerous measures announced that seek to provide urgent relief to struggling retailers.

The instant asset-write off is a scheme that the NRA has championed ever since it was introduced in 2015 by then Treasurer Joe Hockey. Before COVID-19 had even come on the scene, the NRA had advocated to the government that it should not only be continued, but that the eligibility criteria should be expanded.

On Tuesday the Treasurer announced that the threshold for eligible businesses will extend from those with a turnover of up to $150,000 to any business with turnover below $5 billion. This increased threshold will provide many of you with the ability to make investments into your business that otherwise would be unaffordable. In another move to free up cash, companies will also be able to use losses incurred to June 2022 to offset against prior profits made in or after the 2018-19 financial year.

The personal income tax cuts are another issue that the NRA has long campaigned on. The planned reductions were legislated last Friday and are backdated to 1 July this year. Consequently, low and middle income earners will immediately receive a lift in their  disposable income just as we’re about to head into the vital Christmas period.

Also unveiled was a $200 per week wage subsidy for an employer who takes on a worker aged below 35 who is currently on JobSeeker. In addition to this, there will also be a $1.2 billion wage subsidy for apprenticeships and traineeships to bolster bottom lines. Businesses who take on a new Australian trainee will be eligible for a 50 per cent wage subsidy, regardless of geographic location, occupation, industry or business size.

For further resources compiled by the NRA on the 2020-21 Budget, please visit our website.

Meanwhile, it was also announced last week that there will be a Senate inquiry into the use of smoke-free vaping products. Recently you may have seen the NRA in the media following a draft ruling by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) deeming that vaping products should only be purchased at pharmacies and with a prescription from a GP.

It makes absolutely no sense that those of you who are able to sell cigarettes are prevented from also selling a less harmful product. The NRA will be contributing to the inquiry and will put forward the case as to why tens of thousands of retailers should not be shut out from selling a product that helps people to quit smoking.

Finally, we are very concerned about the prolonged level of business restrictions taking place in Victoria. As Australia’s second biggest city, any adverse economic impacts on Melbourne are bound to have a ripple effect across the rest of the economy.

At the time of writing, the Victorian Government has stated it is “mathematically impossible” to commit to October 19 as the reopening date for retail businesses. Premier Daniel Andrews has stated the roadmap to recovery will likely be overhauled. This uncertainty will only add to the anxiety that our Victorian members are already experiencing. We are one month away from the official start of the Christmas trade period and the Victorian retail community desperately needs clarity over when and how they can reopen their businesses. The NRA urges the Government to provide a certain start-date so that retailers can make the necessary preparations to ensure they hit the ground running once restrictions are lifted.

All the best for the week ahead.