Dominique Lamb CEO National Retail Association

As the excesses of Christmas and New Year make way for positive resolutions for the year ahead (eating healthily and exercising more always seem to top those lists!), we’ve continued receiving great feedback from our members on the pre-Christmas spending and Boxing Day sales periods, particularly in areas now able to trade with fewer restrictions, such as in New South Wales, which has now ‘wrapped up’ its second Boxing Day trading hours’ trial, ahead of consideration for a permanent reform.

On that note, we’ve also welcomed the support from the Opposition Treasury spokesperson Rob Lucas for a similar move in South Australia, where Boxing Day trading is limited to just a handful of locations. Bargain-hungry shoppers in Adelaide’s Rundle Street Mall waiting (im)patiently until 11am was certainly a far cry from the frenzied early morning kick-off we saw in Sydney’s Pitt St Mall!

The November retail trade figures, released this week by the Australia Bureau of Statistics, have certainly reflected this same positive consumer sentiment – one we’ve enjoyed steadily through the second half of 2016 – and suggest the retail industry was performing as expected in the lead up to the busy festive trade and sale periods.

November’s trade figures showed an increase of 0.4 per cent nationally on the same period the previous year, and in trend terms, rises in every state and territory, apart from South Australia, which remained unchanged on 0.0 per cent.

The National Retail Association forecast last November that during the Christmas trade period – the final two weeks of November and all of December – Australians would splash a record $46.5 Billion in retail shopping, and we are confident that when the ABS releases next month its figures for December 2016, we will be able to confirm a record spend for our hard-working retailers.

Finally, I would like to thank all the NRA members who have provided feedback on the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC). As part of the FWC’s four-yearly review of the modern awards, the SDA has made a claim for employers across the retail, fast food, pharmacy and hair and beauty industries to provide paid and unpaid leave for blood and bone marrow donations. The proposal would entitle every permanent employee to up to 40 hours paid donor leave every year, a cost that most businesses would struggle to afford and the overwhelming response we have received from NRA members has been in opposition to the SDA’s application.

While the NRA and most employers would welcome initiatives to support blood and bone marrow donation, it should not be a cost placed on the shoulders of employers. There are already numerous forms of paid and unpaid leave provided for under the Fair Work Act and the current awards. We continue to welcome feedback from NRA members on this issue.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb