Gift card reforms are bad for business

Proposed changes to NSW gift cards have been condemned by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), as there will be no real benefit for consumers and will only make things more complicated for retailers.

ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, says introducing a three-year minimum expiry limit for gift cards within NSW places an unnecessary regulatory burden and significant additional administrative costs on small, medium and large businesses.

“It is unreasonable to expect small retailers and family businesses to amend their administrative practices and incur extra liabilities on their books simply to respond to unnecessary regulation,” he says.

“Gift cards are issued to consumers free of charge, with the majority used within their first 12 months. Increasing red tape and imposing conflicting rules on gift cards from retailers who operate across the nation will simply not work.”

Further, the ARA and the National Retail Association (NRA) have applauded the Federal Court ruling to uphold the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rates decision.

Both United Voice and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association’s cases, in which they applied for a review of the rates decision, were dismissed this week.

Zimmerman says the latest August retailing trade figures of only 2.15 per cent year-on-year growth have proved just how challenging the current retail climate is.

“These disappointing growth figures, combined with increasing economic pressures are significantly affecting employment rates across Australia, and stifling retail growth nationally,” he explains.

“We now have a unanimous decision from a five member full court of the Federal Court supporting the unanimous decision of a five member full bench of the Fair Work Commission to reduce penalty rates.

“The ARA hopes the ALP and other political parties who are seeking to overturn this decision are sensible enough to accept the umpire’s decision and allow retailers to get on with the job of employing more people.”

NRA’s CEO Dominique Lamb echoes his sentiment, saying retailers were pleased to see the issue put to bed so they could get on with running their businesses, creating employment opportunities for Australian workers, and contributing to the Australian economy.

“We need to stop preventing retailers from adapting to a rapidly-changing environment, and work out how we, as a nation, can instead enable and foster growth for one of the most valuable contributors to the Australian economy,” she says. 

“Our members are out there devising new ways to do business, innovating their offerings, thinking outside the box and finding remarkable ways to cater to modern consumers, but they can only do so much without the support of equally forward-thinking decision-makers.

“Retail employs the highest number of youth than any other industry in Australia, so we’re pleased to see this sensible decision upheld and are looking forward to being able to employ more young Australians going forward,” she adds.

By Marion Gerritsen