The federal government successfully passed the carbon tax through the lower house on Wednesday but this has left many retailers heavy-hearted.

Russell Zimmerman, Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director, has expressed his disappointment saying that retailers need incentives and assistance to reduce their carbon emissions, not a tax that will ultimately hurt the sector.

“We call on the Greens and the Government to reconsider passing a bill through the Senate which ultimately has no environmental benefit and will mean disastrous economic impacts for Australian retailers,” he said.

In a survey of over 500 retailers, which the ARA conducted earlier this year, 85 per cent of respondents said the carbon tax would have a negative impact on their business profitability and a third of respondents said they would shed staff to cope with lost trade.

“Retailers have repeatedly indicated their concern about the impact of a carbon tax on prices and business inputs. We are in a situation where retailers are increasingly becoming trade exposed and already find it difficult to compete with existing business inputs and costs,” Zimmerman said.

“ARA is worried about the effect on consumer confidence as Australians are faced with more household costs and taxes than their budgets can handle.

“ARA would like to see a ‘carrot approach’ to carbon reduction with visible, tangible business incentives and environmental benefits for reducing carbon emissions- not a heavy handed ‘tax stick’ which further embattles the sector and puts pressure on growth and employment.”