Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed a considerable decline in retail job vacancies, but warns the reduction is likely a result of the increasing cost of doing business and is merely a reflection on seasonal trading.
The scale of the labour shortage crisis has lessened, with new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today showing 36,400 vacancies across the retail sector in February 2023 – a decrease of 27% compared to November 2022.
Approximately 23% of retail businesses reported having vacancies, also down 27% from November.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said that while the decline in vacancies was welcome – it is typical for the post-Christmas period, the number of vacancies remains a concern.
“During Christmas, retail vacancies are typically abundant due to the high volume, fast-paced nature of trading and the need for additional staff,” Mr Zahra said.
“When we move into the New Year, those positions are no longer required, which results in a reduction in vacancies.
“We are still concerned about the high number of vacancies and that the rising cost of doing business for retailers may be impacting job vacancies.”
Mr Zahra welcomed government initiatives in combating the crisis thus far but said more urgent action is required.
“For us to proactively combat retail job vacancies, it requires investment in our labour force.”
“The Government is making promising strides, increasing the cap on migration and rolling out a suite of initiatives such as the Work Bonus for pensioners – but we’ve still got work to do.
“Despite this reduction, labour shortages remain a predominant issues retailers are facing.”
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.