Retailers are feeling good about Black Friday and the 2018/2019 Christmas trading season, says Retail NZ, but the industry body’s latest Retail Radar report flags falling staff numbers as a likely ongoing trend.
Greg Harford, Retail NZ’s general manager public affairs, says more than half of retailers reported that they met or exceeded their targets in the quarter ending 31 December – a 22 percent rise from the previous quarter.
“While 44 percent of retailers still failed to hit their targets, the turnaround does show the importance of the final quarter of the calendar year in helping retailers survive and prosper,” Harford says. “Black Friday fell within this period, and generated massive sales, more than in previous years, and was a key driver of success.”
“While retailers had previously indicated that there are inflationary pressures in the market, a strongly competitive sector is keeping a lid on prices, with just 30 percent of retailers expecting prices to increase during the next quarter – down from 41 percent in the previous quarter.
Harford says the latest Retail Radar report shows an ongoing trend towards reducing staff numbers. He traces this trend back to the 2017 General Election, and says it may be due to economic uncertainty as well as concerns about the new Government’s employment reform in areas such as the minimum wage and industrial relations.
A new bill to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 was announced last week, and will have its first reading early in February.
Key amendments in the bill include:
- Restoring statutory rest and meal breaks.
- Limiting 90 day trials to employers with fewer than 20 employees.
- Restoring reinstatement as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.
- Increasing protections for vulnerable workers such as cleaners and caterers, when a business is transferred or restructured.
- Strengthening collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.
Other items on the Government’s employment legislation programme include equal pay legislation, lifting the minimum wage to $20 by 1 April 2021, and the creation of a framework for fair pay agreements.
On 1 April 2019, the minimum wage will rise by $1.20 per hour to $17.70.