Aus retail must decide: Sink or swim

retail

The Australian retail sector has been profoundly shaped in recent years by changing consumer demands.

A new report released on the state of Australia’s retail industry, identified a ‘sink or swim’ approach when it comes to future growth and opportunities.

The Retail Workforce Study report, produced by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency in partnership with the Industry Skills Council, states that retail’s future lies in offering a seamless mix of physical and online shopping channels and customer experiences.

In order to achieve this, the retail workforce will need higher levels of digital literacy, deeper levels of knowledge on products and more sophisticated interpersonal skills.

Retail managers will especially need new skills in developing innovative business models and high-end ICT solutions. Notably, employment in the retail industry, which already employs over 1.2 million workers across 140,000 businesses, is likely to grow by 8.9 per cent over the next five years.

Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency CEO Robin Shreeve commented that the retail industry is in a state of unequivocal transformation.

“The retail industry is transforming in response to forces such as globalisation; new forms of competition; new technologies and the growth of online sales; and changing economic conditions and consumer preferences,” Shreeve said.

“We need to be able to skill up our retail workforce, including retail managers, so they can embrace these changes in a way that is both profitable for businesses and which opens up career pathways and rewarding jobs for workers,” he added.

The report coincides with the release of key retail figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS found that in trend terms, the retail sectors which experienced the highest growth in December 2013 were:

  • Food retailing +0.6%
  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services +1.2%
  • Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing +0.7%
  • Department stores +0.4%
  • Household good retailing +0.1%