The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is worried legislation is still being pushed through, adding more costs to retailers in the midst of an economic crisis, and has urged state and federal governments to ease off.
ARA executive director Richard Evans said during one of the hardest economic times for retailers, decision-makers are continuing to push through legislation across the country – including unit pricing, plastic bag bans, emissions trading schemes, parental leave, award modernisation and tobacco control – ensuring additional burden to retailers with compliance and other associated costs.

“The Rudd Government needs to walk the talk. It has made a great move to stimulate consumer confidence with the Economic Security Strategy. Now is not the time to burden retailers with new legislation and compliance costs adding to trading stress. Now is the time to let retailers get back on their feet and allow this injection of dollars to flow through the economy.

However, Evans said that in South Australia there is a plan to ban plastic bags by May next year, while in Victoria they’re waiting to hear if the month-long trial that placed a 10 cent levy on plastic bags will be rolled out across the state – once again increasing costs for retailers. 

“For example, instead of holding a steady hand to the wheel of legislation at a time where retailers are struggling after successive months of stagnant and declining growth, the NSW and Victorian governments are now pushing through new laws restricting the sale and display of tobacco products. Smaller retailers simply cannot afford to comply with the new legislation at the moment,” he said.

“Retailers are supportive of government goals to reduce tobacco-related harm. Retailers are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of plastic bags. We’re simply urging decision-makers to put the brakes on penalising retailers for responding to consumer demand in what is a very stressful time for the sector.”

Injecting funds is just not enough at the moment, said Evans, and the Rudd Government now needs to consider business economic impacts upon its planned legislative program.

“Working families include retailers and they need support right now – not heinous increased compliance costs,” he said.