The National Retail Association (NRA) has released a blueprint designed to tackle the unprecedented challenges confronting the sector and set Australian retail on course for recovery.
The full impact from the outbreak of the Coronavirus is yet to be fully felt and it follows a summer of devastating drought and bushfires, as well as a number of established retail brands closing their doors in the last 18 months.
In the blueprint, the NRA advocates the following to respective state and federal governments.
12-month payroll tax ‘holiday’
Payroll tax sees employers charged a price for hiring people and generally ends up being paid by employees via lower wages or by consumers through higher prices, or a combination of both.
The NRA understands that an immediate abolition of this tax would cause an economic hole in state budgets why is why it advocates for a 12-month payroll tax ‘holiday’ to provide swift and immediate relief to retail businesses.
Annual Wage Review exemption for bushfire and Coronavirus affected communities
The NRA understands the need for a modest rise in the national minimum wage but it is not feasible that retailers operating in areas suffering from an extreme economic downturn from the bushfires be asked to abide by the same wage increases as businesses in non-affected parts of the country.
Further, retailers who rely heavily on importing and/or exporting goods to and from China and who have suffered material financial loss as a direct result of coronavirus should be exempted from any wage increase.
Funding for financial education assistance
A large proportion of small businesses close within their first 12 months of operations and retail businesses are closing 50% more often than other businesses. One of the leading reasons is that many people open a small business without the necessary knowledge of how to run a business. The NRA urges government to invest in improving the chances of small business and help to set them up for success.
Instant asset write-off
Retailers ranging from local cafes, family-owned restaurants and other small to medium-sized enterprises have benefitted from the instant asset write-off since it was first introduced in the 2015-16 Federal Budget. However, it has thus far been on a year-by-year proposition. The NRA sees no reason as to why the write-off should not be elevated to a permanent basis to provide much needed certainty to the small business community.
Safe Retail Precincts program extended to regional areas
The NRA has undertaken an initiative known as Safe Retail Precincts which seeks to bring together retailers, shopping centres, law enforcement, emergency services and government to create safer and more vibrant retail precincts. Between July and December 2019, the NRA visited over 200 shopping centres and 37,000 retail personnel in metropolitan areas of NSW, QLD, VIC and WA as part of the program, in partnership with the Australia Government. The program needs to be implemented in regional areas of Australia to assist with making owning and running a business more attractive, safer and affordable.
The NRA recognises that it must play a leadership role in the continuing focus on the threats facing retail but in order to be successful, it requires the support of government to deliver these strategies.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that although there was no silver bullet, the measures outlined in the Blueprint for Retail Recovery would assist in getting the sector off the canvas.
“Coronavirus and its impact on retail is just the latest challenge to face the sector, following a summer of devastating drought and bushfires, as well as a flat economy more generally,” she said.