While Woolworths recently announced it was creating 7000 jobs in the second half of the financial year by opening more stores and increasing its sales, some fear it may be at the cost of other retail positions.

The retail sector employs about 15 per cent of the Australian working population and with many jobs lost already due to the economic crisis, Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe believes the industry needs the company’s support now more than ever.

“We see our role as generating economic activity and jobs,” he said.

However, while Tony Standley of The Retail Alert Group said it is great to see Woolworths employing thousands of people in these tough times, “so are other mid-to-small size retailers such as Bakers Delight and ALDI…”

He said that the occupancy terms and conditions ‘gulf’ between the big chains and the developers, and medium-to-small retailers is really what’s causing the current retail sector market balance and is to blame for many small and mid-sized businesses’ struggles.
“No wonder the giant retail duopoly is continuing to take more and more market share, creating the illusion of employing more Australians at the expense of mid-size and SME Australian retailers,” he said.

“If the current trend of the giant retailers getting larger continues, fewer people will be employed in the Australian retail sector, with Australian shopping centres having fewer specialty tenants to choose from, resulting in less consumer choice.
“Continual market growth by the giant retailers, despite the current statement of new jobs being delivered in the short term, will destroy Australian retail jobs, not create more Australian retail jobs,” he said.