Earlier in the week, GDP figures were released for the September quarter which showed a contraction of 0.5 per cent for the Australian economy.
While it certainly isn’t time to hit the panic buttons just yet, this should serve as a reminder to all of us in the retail industry not to be complacent when it comes to the health of the overall economy.
However, it is important to also remember that the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for retail trade in September and October were quite healthy and this should be seen as cause for optimism for when the next quarterly figures are released.
In the meantime, it’s important that our elected officials treat these figures as a wake-up call and work together to invest in infrastructure to provide jobs and create additional money for consumers to spend to ensure that the Australian economy remains vibrant and healthy into the future.
Also, on Tuesday last week the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to leave interest rates on hold at 1.5 per cent. This is welcome news for retailers given we are currently in the midst of the busiest trade period for the year.
Retail trade did experience a sluggish few months in mid-2016, however, retail sales have steadily improved following the August rate cut and we are satisfied with the RBA’s decision to maintain the current record-low rate.
On a more alarming note, it was revealed this week that quite a few retail businesses across Australia have been victims in a counterfeit note operation.
There is nothing more soul destroying for a hard working retailer than to realise that you have been paid with counterfeit money when depositing the cash at the end of a long working day. As you would all be aware, there is no restitution for victims of counterfeiting and retailers are forced to personally wear the cost of this illegal conduct.
Safeguarding your business against fraudulent money can be difficult, given that often the only way of finding out that a cash note is fake is when it is all too late. That said, there are some things that you can keep in mind to try and mitigate the risk of falling victim to this criminal activity.
The retail businesses that are most at risk of being the targets of this unscrupulous behaviour are cash dependent businesses such as pubs, restaurants, farmers’ markets and small corner stores.
Counterfeiters generally make fake replicas of $50 and $100 notes and will generally use a large amount of cash in a single transaction.
In this day and age, it is particularly odd for a customer to use a large amount of physical cash to pay for expensive transactions, so be wary of someone walking into your store with wads of cash to purchase products.
Moreover, the NRA encourages retailers (where possible) to use online transactions to help reduce the likelihood of being stung with fake cash. While there is a merchant fee associated with online transactions, this cost is nothing compared to the financial and emotional cost that occurs if you lose hundreds of dollars due to counterfeiting.
The NRA supports, in principle, new technology that is used to reduce counterfeit money entering the economy, however, we do ask that any moves are done in consultation with the industry so as to cause minimum inconvenience for retailers.
I hope that you are enjoying both a busy but successful period as we count down the days until Christmas.