Despite recent reports claiming rising unemployment in the retail sector, the June ARA Australian Retailers Index shows a 12 per cent jump in employment for retail SMEs.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said recent commentary regarding rising retail unemployment was a result of inaccurate analysis of the ABS labour force figures released last week.
“The labour force figures released last week actually confirm the retail sector has maintained employment levels over the three months leading into May with minimal movement from February’s seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers.
“As well as this, the ARA Australian Retailers Index shows most retailers are holding onto skilled staff in preparation for rising demand with 68 per cent reporting no change in employment levels in the past quarter,” said Evans.
A further 16 per cent of retailers actually increased their number of staff during the same period.
Retailing works in cycles, and although the sector has experienced a downturn, good retailers are doing their best to hold onto skilled staff as consumer confidence continues to grow and a new type of consumer emerges.
“Over the past six months, most consumers have had more cash in their pockets as a result of lowering interest rates and government economic stimulus packages,” said Evans.
“But negative and fear filled commentary regarding economic conditions have resulted in consumer trepidation to let go of discretionary spend, with a trend towards saving or paying off debt.”
However, as consumer confidence returns a new type of consumer is emerging. This new consumer is in a better cash/credit position and will re-enter the market ready to spend without guilt but with more purchasing power.
“When this happens, retailers will need to be ready with skilled staff to service consumer demand. Smart retailers are creating an employment culture that encourages career growth and holds onto the skilled staff they will be relying on when improved growth returns in the September quarter,” said Evans.