An industry survey has revealed that 83 per cent of retailers expect consumers will be spending less as a result of the carbon tax.

The Australian Retailers Associations (ARA) industry survey of 500 retailers indicate almost 85 per cent expect the carbon tax will have a negative impact on business profitability with only 1.4 per cent saying consumers would spend more.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said the government’s introduction of carbon tax is “adding insult to injury” as retailers are already struggling in the dismal trading conditions.

“This isn’t about big business whining over cost increases and their bottom line; these are small retailers who are families, single mothers or young couples trying to support themselves in life just like all working Australians.

“Over a third of retailers surveyed said they would shed staff as a result of lost trade due to the carbon tax and a further quarter just weren’t sure what the effects of the tax would mean for their staffing levels. As an industry that’s Australia’s largest employer of people, this is a disastrous finding,” he said.
Over a third of retailers surveyed said they’re planning to pass on carbon tax driven price rises onto to consumers but a further quarter are worried they won’t be able to pass on these costs given consumer sentiment is already at an all-time low.

“As the catchment point at the end of the supply chain, price impacts passed through this chain culminate at the retail checkout. This means every link in the supply chain – including manufacturing and rail, road or sea delivery- will pass on their cost increases as a result of the carbon tax to the next link. All of these costs compound on the way and fall straight into retailers’ laps for them to either absorb or pass on to consumers,” Zimmerman said.

“Retailers have told us they have tried to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint. Some have managed to take environmentally- friendly measures that have reduced their energy bills, only to find with the rising costs of utilities they’re now back to where they started in the first place.

“Aside from trying to reduce their own energy costs, there will be transport and delivery costs increases as a result of the carbon tax that retailers have no control over. This is why we have had such an anxious response from retailers ultimately worried sick about the future of their business, staff and livelihood.”