Australian retailers are calling on the Federal Government to support struggling businesses in the May Budget while rates remain on hold.

Governor Michele Bullock held interest rates at 4.35 per cent this month, citing moderating inflation and the CPI being down from 4.1 per cent to 3.6 per cent over the year to December.

National Retail Association Director Rob Godwin said the rates pause gives the Government the perfect opening to support retailers through meaningful Budget intervention.

“If the Federal Budget successfully addresses ballooning energy costs and insurance premiums while interest rates are held, it could prevent many businesses from exiting the market,” Mr Godwin said.

“The March trading period saw a 0.4 per cent drop in sales, and discretionary retailers who experienced a soft sugar hit in February from the Eras Tour experienced a proportionally worse sales decline the following month.

“55 per cent of Australian businesses expect a decline in year-on-year profits in the coming 12 months, as result of high interest rates, wage increases and weakening household consumption.

“The Australian retail business outlook is made all the grimmer with the Reserve Bank’s insistence on holding rate cuts off until 2025, risking current and potential investors,” he said.

According the 2024 Retail Sentiment Report, 29 per cent of retailers have cut advertising costs, and reduced spending on customer acquisition and retention, which will have a knock-on effect for manufacturers and suppliers in Australia.

“Retailers need urgent Government support if they’re going to cope and evolve through these uncertain economic conditions,” he said.

“The Reserve Bank’s decision thus far has created an uncertain environment for business owners, we hope the Federal Government will use this month’s Budget to restore some lost confidence.”


The National Retail Association represents 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, contact the National Retail Association media unit on 0467 792 013.