CEO Dominique Lamb

“Retail was a notable exception, with conditions in the sector remaining weaker.”

It’s not the results we wanted to hear from NAB’s monthly business survey. The survey showed business conditions have been edging slightly higher, with conditions remaining favourable across most states and industries.

But it’s not exactly a shock. You already know that retail cash flow is below that of other industries, which NAB says likely reflects, “the ongoing structural issues facing the sector.”

I.e. the unabating competition from overseas sellers not paying the high wages, rents, taxes and compliance costs that you’re paying.

This is one of the reasons we’ve devoted so much time and energy to having the GST applied to all overseas online purchases to level the playing field.

It’s also why we spent years fighting for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates. And why we’ve been fighting so hard for you to keep them, as the Federal Opposition continues trying to have the decision overturned.

As the argument continues to rage in Canberra, the 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide has revealed there is an increasing demand for professional retail employees with digital development and marketing expertise. These skilled workers are needed to strategically expand stores’ e-commerce expansion efforts and to add the most effective, user-friendly and streamlined digital facets for traditional bricks and mortar stores.

Managerial staff with experience leading cultural and logistical changes within their stores are also in hot demand, as retailers search for more innovative promotional pathways to address consumers’ changing needs.

Merchandise planners with exceptional skills and experience in both the physical and digital space, who can implement data-driven plans for optimal inventory management, are also in hot demand and for good reason!

Data analytics is big business these days, so employing someone with the sharpest analytical skills, balanced with effective communication skills, is a crucial step toward maximising your profit margin.

Put simply, when it comes to competitiveness, Aussie retailers must be able to offer the best solutions for their customers’ needs, while offering the best overall consumer experience possible, or they’ll simply take their money elsewhere.

It’s an issue on the boil in South Australia at the moment, as the Government introduces moves to deregulate trading hours – however it’s been met with some fiery opposition, most of which is being driven by fear-mongering rather than evidence.

The SA Government is trying to overhaul the archaic legislation that only allows retailers to open in prescribed hours. Hours that were set down long before anyone could have imagined buying makeup via Instagram, on their smartphone, while taking the dog for a walk!

But as you and I both know, consumers don’t shop the way they used to. Technology has given them far more purchasing power than at any other time in history. They can get what they want, when they want, at a price they want, and from anywhere they want.

Bricks and mortar retailers must be able to differentiate themselves by giving consumers the speed, value and convenience they have come to expect, however but this is only viable if they are able to do it when consumers want to shop, or they can and will (and are) take their money further afield.

These laws were designed, and the powers-that-be would like to allow retailers more flexibility to cater to their consumers.

There are some incredibly suspect claims being made by those opposed to the changes. However these claims seem to be motivated more by a resistance to the social changes that have occurred rather than the realities of doing business in 2018.

Times have changed, consumers have changed, people’s lives have changed, and whether we like it or not, businesses must be allowed to change as well, or they simply won’t survive.

Deregulated hours are voluntary for retailers. Additional shifts are voluntary for workers.

And the data shows time and again that deregulation leads to more shifts for those who need them – quite often teenagers or university students who desperately need flexible working hours, not mums and dads who are busy on weekends with family commitments!

We’d be concerned if the bulk of positive evidence was overlooked or ignored, to appease a small but incredibly loud group of people who are fearful of, and therefore resistant to, the realities of a vastly different retail and social environment to that of decades gone by.

Join the retail conversation

We’d love to hear from you about your experience running stores in other states where deregulation has been implemented! Tweet, comment, call (1800 RETAIL) or email us at [email protected] to join the conversation.