Retail vacancies decline year-on-year as retailers feel financial pinch 

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed a decline in retail job vacancies year-on-year but remains concerned the rising cost of doing business has forced businesses to reduce their investment in jobs due to challenging trading conditions.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today reveal 38,500 vacancies across the retail sector as of August 2023 – compared to 46,100 in August 2022 (down 16.5%).

Approximately 28.1% of retail businesses reported having vacancies, up from 23.8% in previous August.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said that while the decline in vacancies was welcome – it is likely due to retailers cutting back on hiring due to financial pressures.

“The number of vacancies is still somewhat problematic heading into the all-important Christmas trading period, but we fear the main cause of the decline is due to the cost-of-doing-business crisis,” Mr Zahra said.

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

“Many retailers – particularly smaller discretionary retailers – are struggling to survive financially and aren’t able to hire staff.

“The 38,500 retail vacancies remaining would likely be retailers who are still seeing somewhat stable performance – and they’re still struggling to fill those roles.

“Whilst vacancies have reduced, more businesses are being impacted likely as a result of skills shortages.”

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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