Positive signs for Australian retailers amid staffing crisis

Positive signs for Australian retailers amid staffing crisis - Artificial Jewellery

Nearly a quarter of retail Australian businesses reported job vacancies in February, a decline of 8.5 per cent from November, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The lowest level of reported vacancies in retail was in November of 2021 at 15.9 per cent. In February that figure sat at 23.3 per cent.

ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said job vacancies have decreased by 9 per cent from a peak in May of the past year after three consecutive quarters of decline.

“Job vacancies in February 2023 were still nearly double what they were three years ago, just before the start of the pandemic,” Jarvis said.

“There is still a very high demand for labour from employers across Australia and across all industries.”

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said that the number of vacancies remains of great concern.

“During Christmas, retail vacancies are typically abundant due to the high volume, fast-paced nature of trading and the need for additional staff. When we move into the New Year, those positions are no longer required, which results in a reduction in vacancies,” he told Ragtrader.

“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.”

Jewellery industry impacted

In Jeweller’s special December issue – What Do Jewellers Think? – one of the most commonly cited causes for concern heading into 2023 was staff shortages.

CEO of The Jewellery Group, Mudit Vora, oversees the operations of Zamels and Mazzucchelli’s and said that the staffing crisis was a significant concern.

“Staffing has been the biggest challenge this year. While we’ve been able to retain most of our staffing in management roles, hiring new team members within the entire organisation continues to be the biggest challenge,” he said.

Toby Bensimon, managing director of Shiels, said that his company needed to adopt new measures to address the issue.

“Guerilla tactics have to be employed in these times. Our teams use every interaction with people to spruik the benefits of working in our business,” Bensimon said.

“It has been surprising how well this strategy has worked. We must now seek great people, rather than just placing a job ad and waiting for the resumes to arrive.”

Vora and Bensimon both oversee major chain store operations; however, these frustrations were shared by independent businesses too. 

“Labour shortages and the impact staffing issues are having on small business has been well documented in the media,” explained Allison English, owner of Byrnes Jewellers.

“It’s a problem that began in the pandemic and in my experience, hasn’t exactly improved since. It’s been a frustration this year that I can easily see continuing to be a problem in the future unless something drastic changes.”

Zahra said that the only solution he can envision is an increased investment into the 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,” he said.

“Despite this reduction, labour shortages remain a predominant issue retailers are facing.”

According to the latest figures, the largest quarterly percentage decline in job vacancies belonged to WA, decreasing by 15 per cent.

New South Wales recorded the largest percentage quarterly growth, increasing by 9 per cent.

More reading
Australian retailers pessimistic despite positive forecast
Retailers demand more protection, New Zealand sales struggling
Modest sales wins for Australian jewellery retailers
Optimism following February’s retail jewellery analysis
Surprise reversal pattern observed in Australian jewellery sales
Australian jewellery sales steady in December
Sales dip during November for Australian jewellers
Third consecutive month of strong sales for local jewellers


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