The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomed the key support measures announced in today’s 2020-21 Queensland Budget, which will provide a springboard for retailers hoping to rebound, but said some measures fell short of sustaining a long-term retail recovery.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said it was pleasing to see Queensland align with NSW, Victoria and South Australia with changes to its payroll tax system, and a suite of smaller measures to support small businesses battling with the impacts of the virus.
“The reduced payroll tax rate is a welcome measure for retailers, with payroll tax mostly acting as a tax on jobs and a barrier to businesses hiring new staff. Many retailers, particularly those in tourist or CBD locations, continue to suffer the impact of the pandemic, so the new measures should provide relief to SMB retailers which have endured prolonged border closures,” Mr Zahra said.
Mr Zahra said the $1bn concessional jobs loans program would also provide a resource for businesses struggling to recover and maintain employment, but raised the concern that loans and deferrals can simply add to the debt burden facing many employers.
“We would prefer to see stronger foundations for a sustainable recovery beyond the stimulus sugar hit that some retailers have enjoyed. There are concerns that temporary support and deferred debt – though helpful in the short-term – will ultimately present longer-term challenges to retailers that have not been able to replenish their cashflow post-lockdown,” Mr Zahra said.
“Smaller retailers looking to expand are set to benefit from a range of supports to give them a platform for growth. Retail is on a powerful transformation path, assisted by the Covid disruption, and the Small Business Adaptation Grants and access to new investment opportunities will help retailers to lock in the innovation gains from this year.
“Crucially, the retail industry will be supported by action to develop the skills of the future, which will be important to any retailer seeking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital commerce. The ARA’s training arm, the Retail Institute, is well positioned to support the government’s skills and training focus delivering training unique to the retail industry.
“We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to ensure the state is in the best position possible to secure a broad retail recovery that is crucial to the state’s economic recovery,” Mr Zahra concluded..