The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is proposing a 1.9% wage increase in the interests of maintaining job security and saving businesses from decline at a time when they are struggling to survive in a tough industry.

With recent retail sales showing a weak trading environment for retailers, the ARA proposes the minimum wage increase to bring balance back into such a difficult operating environment said Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA.

Executive Director of the ARA, Russell Zimmerman

“Australian retailers are continuing to face an overwrought market and an increase in line with inflation is the best way to preserve employment within the retail sector.

“Given the constant rise in rental prices, energy costs and slow retail growth, this 1.9% increase will allow retail to maintain its position as Australia’s largest private employer,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Last week’s January trade figures highlighted the incessant struggle retailers are facing, therefore this year’s minimum wage review needs to benefit both employers and employees working in the sector.”

With many of Australia’s best-known retailers facing re-structuring and store closures, the ARA have consulted their membership base in order to make their recommendation.

Numerous small, medium and large retailers have told the ARA that an increase in the minimum wage beyond 1.9% would be detrimental to their businesses, leading to negative impacts for employees.

“The ARA’s submission has outlined the difficult trading environment in the retail sector due to rising cost pressures, unsustainable rents, increasing competition and weak consumer confidence,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“With weak sales growth and wage levels well above our international competitors, it’s critical that the Fair Work Commission (FWC) acknowledge the volatile economic trading conditions when making their decision,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We trust the FWC will determine the best federal minimum wage increase during this shifting period where large sectors of the economy are either in decline or receiving minimal growth.”

To view the ARA’s Minimum Wage submission to the FWC please click here.