Retail struggle in January 2020

Retail turnover dropped by an unprecedented 17.7 per cent in April, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Although we were already well aware of the economic impact of COVID-19, these figures quantify the full extent of the hit that retail has endured thus far.

This came one day after the ABS also revealed that GDP dropped by 0.3 per cent for the March quarter. While not officially being in recession just yet, the June quarter will also see a reduction in GDP meaning that Australia will experience its first recession since 1991.

The tough conditions will remain for some time yet, not only for retail but the economy more generally. If there is a silver lining, it is that April was the peak of the business restrictions so unless we receive a second spike in infections the worst of COVID-19 is hopefully behind us.

This week the Annual Wage Review 2019-20 enters its final stages, with the Fair Work Commission expected to hand down its decision soon after final consultations conclude on Wednesday. This year the NRA has advocated from the start for no increase to minimum wages – a position which, given the impact of COVID-19 on the retail sector, has proven to be prescient, with other employer groups only belatedly adopting the same position. We will advise members of the outcome of the review as soon as it is known, and our popular wage summaries will be updated shortly thereafter.

The retail industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t stop us caring about the welfare of our team members. To this end, we have developed a new training tool to assist retail employers and employees maintain personal health, mental health and wellbeing, which can be accessed here. The need for additional resources and support is even more critical, with evidence of domestic and family violence reports increasing due to isolation. Last month, the National Retail Association announced the launch of the Domestic Violence Retailer Support Hub, designed to help employers identify the signs of domestic and family violence and create plans to support their employees.  We are thrilled to announce that last week saw the publication of  DFV Guide for Retailers – a document that collates all the actionable steps of preparing for, and responding to, DFV in one place. The complete guide is available to download here. We’ve  also created a series of handy webinars and podcasts to provide detailed advice on the steps you can take in your business and the obligations you need to be aware of. We’ve also compiled existing resources to make it easier to access the information you need. This information can be found on our dedicated webpage. Should you require any further information, or need advice on a matter at your own workplace, please call our DFV Retailer Advice Hotline on 1800 445 522.

Finally, the NRA has teamed up with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to launch the Ready and Able project. The purpose of the project is to assist retailers develop inclusive hiring practices, with resources and information to encourage employing a person with a disability. The Ready and Able web portal provides employers with resources including education surrounding workplace laws, protections and information to guide employers on the best practice when employing a person with a disability. Further information can be found at the Ready and Able website.

All the best for the week and keep well.