Australian Retailers Association Calls On Gov For Rescue Package
In an open letter to the federal government the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) have called for an industry rescue package, given that many employees will be out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two associations are seeking wage subsidies for retail workers, underwriting of a line of credit so retailers can trade without fear of insolvency, and a guarantee of retail rental payments.
Russel Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said that it was imperative the government helped save thousands of retail enterprises and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Australia’s retail industry annual turnover is more than $325 billion, and is responsible for 4.1% of GDP.
“Australian retail is the largest private sector employer in Australia, with 1.3 million people – many of them younger Australians, women, and seniors – in retail jobs, and those jobs are in grave danger of being lost,” Zimmerman said.
The letter read: “While the stimulus package announced by the Federal government today (22nd March) is positive for the small business community, the measures it contains will not save many retailers – large, medium and small – whose trade is dependent on discretionary spending.”
According to the ARA, the country’s retailers have already felt the pinch from lower discretionary spending. The association stated that in March 2020 revenue across retail was down 20-30% year-on-year, and turnover fell even more sharply.
“The collapse in consumer spending due to panic over Coronavirus will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs unless drastic action is taken now,” Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary of the SDA, said. “We call on the government to convene an Australian Retail Industry Rescue Package Taskforce to work with us to preserve retail and the jobs it provides.”
“The SDA and the ARA have put their differences aside in the interests of saving Australia’s retail sector,” the letter said.