THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is concerned for the future of the retail industry after the Fair Work Commission awarded an unmanageable $15.80 a week increase in the minimum wage.
From 1 July 2016, the national minimum wage will increase to $672.70 a week, or $17.70 per hour. For retailers it will see the rate for shop assistants increase by $17.30 per week to $738.80 per week, or $19.44 per hour.
Executive director Russell Zimmerman says the ARA advocated before the tribunal a realistic and manageable minimum wage increase of no more than $7.90 per week for the retail sector.
"We are obviously concerned about the effects this decision will have on retailers," Zimmerman says.
"Retailers and young Australians have been reliant on pay rates to enable retail to bring on low-skilled young staff and increase their skill levels, reducing youth unemployment.
"Many small to medium enterprise retailers are reliant on a minimum wage workforce, and the announcement today to increase wages during this time of low consumer confidence and low growth will sadly result in further job losses and business closures - a very distressing truth for retailers.
"The minimum wage increase, coupled with weak trade figures and penalty rates, will only cause further damage to retailers who are struggling to keep their heads above water as it is.
"With nervousness during the election period, weakening retail trade figures and global economic concerns the retail industry cannot simply keep up with excessive wage increases.
"The ACTU and SDA aren't about creating jobs and opportunity but they now continue a low productivity/high wages agenda which will only harm retailers and their employees."
There appears to have been no if little consideration taken into account of the fragile economy, risk to jobs or low growth for sectors such as retail by the Commission.
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