Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said the initiatives the Prime Minister announced at the Small Business Summit in Brisbane are another positive step towards supporting retailers and small business.

However, he said there are other initiatives the government could consider, including the deferring of costly legislation that will impact retailers heavily over the coming months and into the expected tough time of early 2009.

“Legislation mooted for the next 12 months directly having an impact on hard-hit retailers include the potential for plastic bags levies and bans, the emissions trading scheme, the award modernisation process, parental leave, unit pricing and tobacco controls. These changes to legislation will add compliance and increasing costs for smaller retailers which could be the difference between profit, breaking even or closing.

For instance the draft award modernisation will increase the wage bill in all states for all retailers. A small retailer with two full-time and two casual employees will have a 14 per cent wage bill increase on average across Australia – this is from a high of 21.6 per cent in NSW to a low of 11.3 per cent in the Northern Territory, according to Evans.

“Right now is the time retailers need direct help. The government has initiated the $10.4 billion economic security strategy to provide an important injection of cash to flow through the economy. But it is also time to consider to defer (not stop) legislation that will directly impact small retailers until we are through the most uncertain period of trade during the next six months.

“The Prime Minister is showing macro leadership and now he needs to show micro leadership by deferring any additional compliance and other costs for retailers,” added Evans.