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Budget gets a tick from retail industry

Retailers have delivered a positive response to the 2020 Budget to Appliance Retailer with the initiatives to support business and employment well received.  

Bing Lee general manager, Peter Harris acknowledged that these were challenging times for a budget to be handed down. “But in terms of stimulating the economy and not overspending it seems to be a good budget. Encouraging people to spend, boost the economy and keep unemployment down as low as possible in these challenging times can only help retail as well,” he told Appliance Retailer.

BSR Group CEO Graeme Cunningham said the budget has targeted the right areas as now is the time to motivate people to spend and give them job security for the next 12 months and beyond.

“Anything that helps people and their jobs is always good for us and support for regional Australia was also welcome news as we have lot of regional stores so that was a positive for these areas. I don’t’ believe the government had a lot of alternatives in order to get the economy ticking along and the signs look favourable for the next few months and into the New Year for retail,” he said.

Rawsons Appliances director, Jon Pysing also welcomed the budget news which he said would provide some reassurance for people to spend more. “It will probably create a bit of a buffer against rising unemployment too,” he said. Also, the wage subsidy would be an impetus to take on more apprentices. “We have been hiring as Covid-19 has kept us very busy through winter which would normally have been very quiet.”

Camberwell Electrics owner Hans Vanderstadt described it as “fundamentally a good budget”.

“To keep a business engine running it needs cash flow and confidence so hopefully the budget will deliver these. Positivity is good in this doom and gloom world. What I do hope is that it leads to an increase in the renovations market.”

As for the wage subsidy for traineeships, Vanderstadt said it was something to consider. “Absolutely, even though we have to keep business as lean as we can, but if things bubble up again, we would certainly look at traineeships.”

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) also agreed with the business support and consumer stimulus measures in the budget. “There can’t be an economic recovery without a retail recovery,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said.

“The personal income tax reductions and some modest cash stimulus for welfare recipients will boost immediate spending power, as well as the loss carry-back scheme and the wage subsidies which will both help keep more money in the bank for struggling retailers in the coming year. A positive transformation can come from this crisis for retailers and training and skills development are crucial to help position retailers and their teams for future success,” he said.  

But as with every budget, the devil was in the detail. “Retail is the largest private sector employer and we look forward to understanding more specifically how the retail industry will be supported through the various skills and training programs to position it to thrive. We remain keen to see certainty around the continuation of JobSeeker which will provide significant consumer spending power and confidence,” Zahra said. 

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said bringing forward and backdating tax cuts for low and middle-income earners means everyday Australians will now have more money to spend.

“The need to restore consumer confidence is vital, particularly as we head into Christmas, and these tax breaks will go a long way to achieving that,” she said. “We also support the wage subsidy for any business that employs a worker aged below 35 who is currently on JobSeeker.”

Lamb said the timing of the budget measures couldn’t be better, with the retail sector about to head into its busiest time of the year.

“Christmas is not only the busiest time but is it is also the most important. Many small businesses rely on a bumper holiday harvest to survive leaner times of the year so the last thing any of them need is for consumer spending to drop between now and Christmas.”

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