NZ retail fails half yearly report card

Shopping-centreRetail NZ has released a half yearly report card, highlighting problematic issues for the retail sector.

Issues include industrial relations, consumer spending, regulation and crime.

“The retail sector is a very substantial part of the economy, but it is under substantial and sustained pressure,” said Retail NZ’s chief executive, Scott Fisher.

According to Fisher, 42 per cent of retailers reported in a recent survey that they had failed to hit sales targets, part of an ongoing trend of underperformance across the sector.

“Overall, the environment for retail business is challenging,” said Fisher.

The report states that retail is a low net-margin business, and as a result, owner-operators often struggle to pay themselves the equivalent of the minimum wage.

In addition, consumer spending has become almost static. Consumers have become increasingly price-sensitive due to increased household costs and uncertainty associated with the housing slowdown.

Fisher notes that regulation of shop trading hours on religious holidays is “arbitrary, unfair, and simply inefficient.”

The report calls for national leadership on these issues and consistent rules around the country.

The worst issue, however, was rampant crime; with the sector having seen increased aggression and violence in-store.

“Tragically, during the first half of the year, a security guard working at a retail premises was killed,” Fisher explained.

“There needs to be a Government social change program to encourage respect for people, property and the law; and the Government needs to act to ensure there are real consequences for petty offenders in order to break the cycle of crime.”

It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, according to Fisher.

“The Government is moving to level the playing field by making foreign websites register for GST when selling to New Zealanders.

“There have also been positive movements in relation to payments with improved transparency and reduced interchange fees for some transactions – although we have yet to see the impact of this flow through into reduced merchant fees for retailers.”

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