It’s traditional in our first newsletter each January to wish members and all retailers a happy new year. We know from official data and industry feedback that many retailers ended 2021 very strongly. The Australian Bureau of Statistics this week reported a 7.3 per cent increase in turnover for November, compared with 2020.  The strongest growth areas were in clothing and footwear (up by 38.2%), department store spending (26%), and household goods (11.6%). This can partly be put down to the growth in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales events, which have broken all records again.  Easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including less strict density and capacity limits, in New South Wales (5.1 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (19.2 per cent) led to rises in turnover to record levels. While many of you had a bumper Christmas season, unfortunately we seem to be starting 2022 on uneven footing as the Omicron variant causes uncertainty and dampens consumer confidence.

We’ve all seen that the staff shortages have impacted our supply chains hard, with shelves emptier than they were at the start of the pandemic. Each state is announcing their own exemptions for close contacts of positive COVID cases, which we break down for you here. We have been participating in industry meetings with government, calling for national consistency, certainty and a fast-tracked supply of rapid antigen tests to our industry.

The NRA has developed a short survey to help gauge the impact of COVID on your business as we start 2022 – particularly surrounding the access to Rapid Antigen Tests and staffing shortages. The survey is available here and we encourage you all to provide your feedback. We need to share your experiences with Government to be able to effect change for the industry.

Whatever 2022 holds for you, don’t forget that the NRA is here to help your business prosper and grow. If you are thinking about employment, leasing, training or legal issues, we have dedicated personnel who can point you in the right direction for advice and even put together a tailored package to suit your individual needs.  We’re only ever a phone call or email away. Good luck for the year ahead.

All the best for the week ahead.

Dominique Lamb

Chief Executive Officer