Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Retail job vacancies fall as costs rise

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes a decline in retail job vacancies but believes it’s largely due to rapidly rising costs of doing business, prompting businesses to cut back on hiring.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released last week reveal 32,200 vacancies across the retail sector as of May 2023, a decrease of 13% compared to February 2022.

Approximately 21.7% of retail businesses reported having vacancies, down 6% from February.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says that while the decline in vacancies is welcome, it’s likely a consequence of retailers limiting hiring due to financial constraints.

“We are still concerned about the high number of vacancies, but we fear a significant driver in the decline is due to retailers experiencing a cost-of-doing-business crisis,” he says.

“With increasing costs of rent, wages, insurance, utilities, materials and supply chain costs, some retailers are battling to avoid making redundancies – let alone hiring additional staff.

“The 32,200 retail vacancies remaining would likely be retailers who are still seeing somewhat stable performance – and they’re still struggling to fill those roles.

“For us to proactively combat retail job vacancies, it requires further investment in our labour force.

“Despite this reduction, labour shortages remain a predominant issues retailers are facing.”

The ARA is calling for:

  • Further improvements to childcare, to improve workforce participation and financial security for women
  • National consistency around the minimum working age
  • Continued streamlining of immigration applications and removal of red tape
  • Further supporting the long term unemployed, ensuring access to sustained work

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