ARA seeks government action to address retail worker ‘crisis’


As the retail labour shortage worsens, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has urged the government to increase migration and provide support services for women and pensioners to boost workforce participation.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were about 49,900 vacancies across the retail sector as of November last year – an increase of 8.2 per cent over August.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says more “urgent action” is needed to combat this crisis as businesses struggle to secure enough staff.

“Labour shortages remain the predominant issue retailers are facing, with some stores forced to reduce trading hours in response to worsening staff availability. It can be the difference between success and insolvency for small businesses.

“These shortages were exacerbated during the frenetic Christmas trading period, the most critical time of the year for retail,” said Zahra.

Zahra also proposed implementing national consistency around minimum working age limits for retail workers while also improving childcare and removing the red tape around immigration.

Meanwhile, a quarterly insights report from the recruitment agency Employ shows that new job listings per month are “decreasing across organisations of every size” while the number of average applications submitted per job keeps increasing.

According to Employ, 63 per cent of retail recruiters said they would make more hires this year however, they believe it may be “challenging” to find qualified candidates.

Further reading: Vacancies surge as labour shortages cripple the retail industry


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