Following the Productivity Commissions’ call for submissions from retailers for its inquiry into the Australian retail industry, the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) said 2011 will be a critical year for retailers.

ANRA CEO Margy Osmond said retailers suffered a dismal 2010, with growth of only 3 per cent nationally across the sector and believes 2011 it will only get worse with increasing utility costs, rising rents and red tape.

“Australian shoppers remain cautious post-GFC and with such a challenging retail environment, a wide-ranging review of opportunities for growth and the barriers to prosperity is overdue,” she said.

“The Inquiry is due to produce a draft report in August to give the sector a guide to the Commission’s thinking, disappointingly the final report is not expected before November.  ANRA recognises the Inquiry is no small task but we had hoped to see a result well before the Christmas quarter.”

According to Osmond, retailers are looking to Christmas 2011 to see signs of “real recovery” in the sector.

ANRA will be working with the Productivity Commission during the course of the nine month inquiry.

“A ‘one size fits all’ solution is not an option for the retailers, and we welcome the broad approach of the Inquiry with its view to keeping Australian retail successful in the long-term. ANRA looks forward to providing advice and assistance to the commission throughout the inquiry,” Osmond said