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The National Retail Association (NRA) has slammed the decision to slug Australia’s embattled retailers with a penalty rate rise on the eve of the Christmas trade period.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled to increase penalty rates by 25% for 350,000 casual retail employees who work on Saturday and after 6pm on weekdays, coming into effect on November 1 2018.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that the decision is not welcome news for small business on the eve of the busiest trading period of the year for retail. “Many retailers across the country have been confronting an extraordinarily challenging period throughout 2018, which has been reflected in the latest ABS release for retail sales,” Ms Lamb said.

“Small retailers in particular are already struggling with soaring electricity costs and increasing wholesale prices.

“Now these mum-and-dad small business owners will need to absorb a hike in Saturday penalty rates for casual staff that many simply cannot afford.

“The retail sector is about to enter its busiest part of the year – the Christmas trade period – and the last thing they need is to be hamstrung with further costs.

“There is no point in giving a Saturday casual worker a pay rise if it results in their shift being reduced or cut altogether.

“At the moment, the money simply isn’t there to be asking small business owners to fork out more cash on wages.”

The National Retail Association is Australia’s largest and most representative retail industry association. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast food sectors for close to 100 years.