New research released today in the March Australian Retailers Index revealed retailers are working hard to hold onto staff and understood the important role employment levels would play in economic recovery, with 65 per cent of SME retailers maintaining staff levels.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said this result was despite SME retailers reporting the lowest growth in employment over the past quarter with 11 per cent of SME retailers reporting a decrease in staff levels and 23 per cent reporting an increase (resulting in a negative 12 per cent retail employment growth index).
“The March Australian Retailers Index showed retailers suffering with falls in sales performance at negative 18 per cent were doing the right thing by adjusting their business paradigm, reducing other expenses and trying to stimulate consumer spend before letting staff go.
Although a decrease in employment levels was being considered by 14 per cent of SME retailers in the past quarter, over 35 per cent were reducing other costs as a result of current economic conditions. Almost 20 per cent were adding new products and 18 per cent were advertising more to try and stimulate consumer spend.
“Usually, employment costs are the easiest overhead for managers under pressure to cut, but SME retailers are showing responsible understanding of the importance holding onto staff to stimulate consumer spending and economic recovery,” said Evans.
“We’re urging employers right through the supply channels to hold onto their staff who have the key to economic recovery in their pockets. If unemployment levels remain under six per cent, the retail sector can expect to see improved growth by the September quarter.
The Australian Retailers Index also revealed the attitude towards the Federal Government policies at negative five per cent with retailers worried about coping with changes to IR laws.
“The good news looking forward is that retailers reported higher prospects for the coming quarter with employment growth expectations at positive three percent, this is up by five points from employment expectations for the last quarter,” said Evans.
The Australian Retailers Index analyses the Sensis Business Index results for businesses in the retail sector, providing a snapshot of the retail sector every quarter in the following categories: retailer confidence; retailer concerns; sales, profitability and employment; capital expenditure; wages and prices and assessment of Federal Government policies.